What is US&R?
Coordinated and overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Urban Search and Rescue Response System (US&R) consists of 28 advanced task forces strategically located throughout the country. These task forces are available to respond to catastrophic events involving the collapse of heavy steel, concrete and wood frame construction.
US&R members are the most highly trained first responders in the nation and their special skills, equipment and techniques allow them to work in extremely dangerous conditions, from natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes, to domestic terrorist incidents.
Because US&R is considered a Rapid Reaction Force, FEMA requires that each task force be ready within six hours' notice for dispatch to anywhere in the country and that they be self-sufficient during the first 72 hours of any emergency response.
If a disaster event warrants national US&R support, FEMA will deploy the three closest task forces within six hours of notification, and additional teams as necessary. The role of these task forces is to support state and local emergency responders' efforts to locate victims and manage recovery operations.
Each task force consists of two 31-person teams, four canines, and a comprehensive equipment cache. US&R task force members work in four areas of specialization: search, to find victims trapped after a disaster; rescue, which includes safely digging victims out of tons of collapsed concrete and metal; technical, made up of structural specialists who make rescues safe for the rescuers; and medical, which cares for the victims before and after a rescue.
In addition to search-and-rescue support, FEMA provides hands-on training in search-and-rescue techniques and equipment, technical assistance to local communities, and in some cases federal grants to help communities better prepare for urban search-and-rescue operations.
The bottom line in urban search-and-rescue - someday lives may be saved because of the skills these rescuers gain. These first responders consistently go to the front lines when America needs them most. We should be proud to have them as a part of our community.
Not only are these first responders a national resource that can be deployed to a major disaster or structural collapse anywhere in the country. They are also the local firefighters and paramedics who answer when you call 911 at home in your local community.
National Response Plan
Under the National Response Plan, US&R teams will provide urban search and rescue and life-saving assistance following major domestic incidents.