Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)
Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) involves the location, extrication, and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in structural collapse due to natural disasters, mines and collapsed trenches.
Structural collapse incidents can comprise unstable or collapsed structures in an unsafe position. Usually collapse incidents leave voids inside the debris that can result in numerous casualties trapped under large amounts of very heavy and often unstable debris.
USAR services can be faced with complex rescue operations within hazardous environment. Incidents experience shows that people are often found alive many hours and days after rescue operations commence, and the corresponding services should be planned accordingly.
The increasingly complex methods and procedures, and the modern ability to bring in teams from far afield has brought a very strong drive for standardization within nations and internationally, most obvious in the role of the United Nations' International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) in large natural disasters. Empact Northwest is proud to be a participating agency in INSARAG's VOSOCC Program, the EMOPS DisasterAware Notification and Coordination Program, and the European Emergency Response Coordination Centre.
Urban search-and-rescue is considered a multi-hazard discipline, as it may be needed for a variety of hazards including earthquakes, cyclones, storms and tornadoes, floods, dam failures, technological accidents, terrorist activities, and hazardous materials releases.
USAR task forces are often categorized for standardization and Empact's Expeditionary Task Force currently meets the standards set for a FEMA Type III team or an INSARAG light classified team, with 60 rostered positions.
USAR Teams bring together, in an integrated response: highly trained personnel from the emergency services along with engineers, medics and search dog pairs, specialized equipment, effective communications, established methods of command and control, and logistical support procedures to request international assistance if required under an international search and rescue framework.
Empact is one of a very small group of non-governmental USAR Task Forces in the world and is the only internationnally deployable non-governmental USAR Task Force in the United States.