Urban Search and Rescue
To respond to natural and man-made disasters as well as providing search and rescue, medical support, communications and damage assessment.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue US&R team, Florida Task Force-1 (FL-TF1) is available 24 hours a day, locally or nationally. In cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the State of Florida and other agencies, the task force can be mobilized once an affected disaster area exceeds their own response capabilities and officially requests outside help.
FL-TF1 is set up to perform the following operations:
Conduct physical search and rescue operations in damaged/collapsed structures, flooded areas and transportation accident scenes
Provide emergency medical care at disaster sites for trapped victims and task force members
Carry out reconnaissance duties to assess damage and determine needs, then use that information to provide feedback to all agencies involved
Provide disaster communications support using state-of-the-art satellite systems
Conduct hazardous materials surveys/evaluations of affected areas
Assist in stabilizing damaged structures, including shoring and cribbing operations
The Task Force is supported by a comprehensive equipment cache totaling 50,000 pounds. It provides total self-sufficiency for immediate mission response and includes:
Rations for 10 days of operations
Housing and feeding facilities for its members
Acoustic, fiber optic and video search equipment
Electric, gasoline, hydraulic, mechanical and pneumatic tools for working on reinforced concrete structures
Hazardous materials monitoring equipment
Medical equipment to provide emergency medical care to 10 critical patients, 15 moderate and 25 minor patients
Satellite, digital phone and radio equipment capable of providing local, regional and global communications of voice, data and fax transmissions. The communications equipment is DOD compatible.
1985 Mexico City
1986 El Salvador
Hurricanes / Weather Disasters
1988 Gilbert, Jamaica
1989 Hugo, Eastern Caribbean
1992 Andrew, Miami
1995 Luis, Caribbean
1995 Marilyn, Caribbean
1995 Opal, North Florida
2004 Charley, Charlotte County, Florida
2005 Katrina, New Orleans, Louisiana
2008 Gustav, Texas
2008 Ike, Miami-Dade County, Florida
1995 Oklahoma City
1996 Columbo, Sri Lanka
1996 Puerto Rico
2001 Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
2001 World Trade Center, New York
1995-96 Buga, Colombia
1996 ValuJet Crash, Florida
1991 Northern Iraq & Turkey
1995 Sierra Leone
1998 Nairobi, Kenya
In the early 1980's two fire departments, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (at that time known as Metro-Dade Fire Rescue) and the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department, operated under an agreement with the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the U.S. State Department to provide international search and rescue assistance in times of disaster. During these early years, assistance was provided to the countries of Mexico, Philippines and Soviet Armenia.
In 1991, FEMA incorporated a US&R team concept into a federal response plan. Over 20 teams were geographically chosen throughout the country, with local public safety departments as sponsoring agencies. Today, under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) there are 28 national task forces staffed and equipped to provide 24-hour search and rescue operations following earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other natural or human-caused disasters.
If a disaster warrants a national US&R response, DHS/FEMA will initially deploy the three closest task forces. Once notified, each team has a six hour window to mobilize 70 search and rescue specialists to report to a prearranged departure point. The role of FL-TF1 and the other task forces is to always support state and local responders' efforts to locate victims and manage recovery operations.
FL-TF1 is comprised mostly of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel and other outside specialists as needed. Team members are divided into specialized components of the task force that include: a command group, a rescue group, a search group, a medical group and a planning group.
In addition, FL-TF1 currently has 9 FEMA certified canine teams. Each team is composed of a handler and a search dog. These canine teams make up the canine search component of the task force.