Tips to coordinate a helpful and safe search effort

We have all seen the images across the news: rescuers and support personnel carrying victims, both lifeless and animated, from the rubble piles of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, earthquakes and tornadoes. This is not for everybody; there are...

While preparing for deployments remains a paramount responsibility, consider the annual lists of updated training that all of the USAR components perform during the course of 12 months. The range or training varies from search equipment usage, radio and communications updates, atmospheric monitoring equipment testing and calibration, shoring and bracing, lifting and moving, breaking and breaching, and even oxy/acetylene torch works.

All of this training requires resources to be prepared, not only for deployments, but for refresher training. The same stresses and wear placed on the equipment during deployments is applied to the equipment during training operations. Once the classes are over, the work of cleaning, servicing and preparing the equipment begins in order for the response cache to be ready for deployment at a moment’s notice.


The calling of a “logistician”

I have served as an evaluator for potential members when our task force held evaluations for potential new members. One constant in this process is that well over 90 percent of candidates try out for a spot as a “knuckle-dragger”—Jersey-speak for Rescue Specialist, a name given to us by New Jersey Task Force 1 (NJ-TF1) Task Force Leader James Riley and one we wear with pride—in the Rescue Component. Very few come to the evaluation looking for a spot in logistics. When talking to some of our logistics personnel, they like it that way, and for good reason—our logistics personnel are very open to new members of their component, but one characteristics that most logisticians agree on is that in order to be efficient, personnel must spend time in another component before joining Logistics. Some of logistics personnel started out on rescue squads, and in some cases, served as squad officers. This experience allowed them to gain the experience of the needs and requirements of “working the pile,” so to speak. Being in the arena performing the work on a deployment has given them a greater understanding of how the equipment works, applications for all of the equipment, potential failures of the equipment and their components, and additional support equipment and tools that would be needed in the field should the tool become damaged.

Also, the potential for continuing education on the tools and equipment in the cache from manufacturers assists in making them the “subject-matter expert” when it comes to operating and maintaining the equipment. Improvements and upgrades to the tool cache can be better judged prior to purchase and acquisition by logistics members with the proven training and experience from that specific component.


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