State certifies rescue squads

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA FE SPRINGS – Two local fire departments belong to the state’s newest Regional Urban Search and Rescue Task Force teams.The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services announced the certification of the two new teams this week. Santa Fe Springs, Montebello, Downey and Vernon fire departments comprise one team. The Long Beach Fire Department makes up the other group.There is only one other such team in California, and it’s based in Marin County, according to Greg Renick, information officer for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.“These are lighter and quicker task forces than our eight 70-member US&R teams,” said Kim Zagaris, OES fire and rescue chief. “These teams will mobilize into a disaster scene within 45 minutes and begin initial search operations and lay the ground work for our large teams that respond within several hours.”Renick said there are 28 national urban search and rescue teams; eight are in California. The national groups have 70-plus members while the regional teams each have about 29 members.Renick said the need for the regional task forces was identified after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.Santa Fe Springs fire Chief Neal Welland said California created mini urban search and rescue teams.“This is a brand new concept,” Welland said. “In 30 minutes, it can gather 29 people from the jurisdiction, get equipment and go on the road.”The regional task forces are designed to respond to disasters within the regional Southern California area, but can also be sent to other parts of the state.Santa Fe Springs, Montebello, Vernon and Downey belong to Area E, one of the disaster response territories. Area E cities have different committees, including one for urban search and rescue, said Welland, who is also the operations chief for Area E.The urban search and rescue committee discovered the state’s idea for the regional teams and suggested they form one.“We went to the state and said we want to be a regional urban search and rescue team,” Welland said.The state Office of Emergency Services certifies the team for training and equipment.“A department or group of departments come to us and tell us they have the resources for a team,” Renick said. “We evaluate the program to see if they have the required equipment and training for the job.”The cost for the team will be borne by the four agencies, Welland said. [email protected](626) 962-8811, Ext. 2718last_img read more