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FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force

Maryland Task Force One

Montgomery County, Maryland

photo of ladder in a trench








FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force

FEMA Patch

MD-TF1 responds as a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force to natural and man-made disasters as a part of the Federal Disaster Response Plan. The plan incorporates 12 emergency support functions (ESF) including Urban Search and Rescue (ESF-9). There are 28 Federally funded US&R Task Forces across the Continental United States. Each task force responds with 62 members filling 18 functional positions.

A US&R Task Force incorporates disasters managers, strategic planners, search specialists (electronic and canine), rescue specialists, physicians, paramedics, communications specialists, structural engineers, logisticians, heavy rigging specialists (crane and heavy equipment), and hazardous material specialists.

MCFRS personnel at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing

To fulfill part of the US&R Task Force responsibilities, the Team's equipment and personnel maintain a high state of readiness for US&R missions. The Team must be prepared to respond to their point of departure with 62 personnel and required equipment within six hours after an activation. To ensure that the Team minimizes an impact on disaster stricken local jurisdictions, the Team must be self-sufficient for the first 72 hours once they arrive at the disaster site. This includes: food, shelter, water, power, fuel, and supplies.

Training for the US&R Task Force missions have included "Operation Fairmont", a joint mobilization exercise with the Fairfax County US&R Task Force. "Operation BoO" was an exercise to establish a field Base of Operations. The Team often brings in nationally acclaimed experts to provide the latest information on disaster response. Additionally, the Team provides training to other organizations on disaster and prolonged incident response topics. The Team has hosted the FEMA Rescue Specialist, Canine Search Specialist, and Medical Specialist courses at the Collapse Rescue Team's Rescue Mall.

The Urban Search and Rescue Task Force has been activated for many incidents. The activations include:

  • The Northridge Earthquake, Southern California (1994)
  • Hurricane Marilyn, U.S. Virgin Islands (1995)
  • The 1996 Summer Olympic Standby, Atlanta, Georgia
  • Hurricane Fran, North Carolina (1996)
  • Hurricane Floyd, North Carolina (1999)
  • Oklahoma City Bombing in April (1995)
  • Pentagon terrorist attack (2001)

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