An elite search and rescue team from Fairfax County is one of two from the U.S. deployed to Turkey to help search for victims of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
The Virginia Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue team out of Fairfax and a Los Angeles County Fire Department team are the specialized teams the U.S. is sending, according to the United States Agency for International Development.
“As rescuers attempt to save those still trapped in the wreckage and families who’ve lost their homes seek refuge, the United States is committed to providing immediate, life-saving humanitarian assistance on both sides of the border to help communities recover from this disaster,” said USAID Administrator Samantha Power in a statement Monday.
The Fairfax County team of 79 includes first responders, doctors, engineers, and other specialists, as well as six search and rescue dogs. The team deployed from Chantilly Monday night, the fire department said. The Los Angeles team has 78 members deployed, according to a news conference.
Pictures the Fairfax team posted on social media Tuesday morning showed supplies being loaded on to an Air Force plane at Dover Air Base in Delaware. The team thanked the Dover crews for “their hard work in getting us on our way.”
“We go out with search teams, scan as many buildings as we can, try to determine the likelihood that there’s people that are trapped,” Dean Tills, a structures specialist with the Fairfax team, told WUSA9 Monday night.
“In a split second, their lives have changed completely, and we’re there to hopefully bring them hope,” he says.
The teams will coordinate with Turkish authorities and other responding agencies helping find people in the rubble. The earthquake killed more than 5,000 and toppled buildings across a stretch of several hundred miles across southeastern Turkey and Syria, The Associated Press reports.
The U.S. teams have responded to earthquakes around the world.
Feature image courtesy Virginia Task Force 1 Urban Search and Rescue/Facebook
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