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Re: Katrina emergency response

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On 2 different hurricanes this year (one in July in Florida and for Katrina) FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Missouri Task Force 1 deployed well in advance of landfall to a position within about 6 or 8 hour driving range PRIOR to landfall. The Florida hurricane did not amount to much and after landfall, FEMA demobilized the task force and they returned to Missouri.

For Katrina, MO TF 1 was notified on Friday, and deployed Saturday PRIOR to landfall, and was able to be in New Orleans Monday afternoon after Katrina's landfall earlier that morning. FEMA emphasizes self reliance for the first 72 hours, but they deploy us to the scene well inside the 72 hours regardless.

All of our training is as "first responders". I have gone through hundreds of hours of training as part of a team. But we are to work with locals into an integrated ICS emergency management response. The wheels came off because the FEMA USAR's were on the scene ready to go before the locals could get up and running. The USAR's organized and went to work until the locals could get up to speed. And this is more of an expectation. It is expected that the locals will be trying to recover their own resources after a major disaster.

A similar thing happened at 911 because all of the senior fire department leadership was killed in the collapse. Once the NYFD established control with FEMA USAR as partners, the rescue and recovery went well.

Keep in mind that it is Urban Search and RESCUE. Recovery was only added as a result of the Murrah Building at Oklahoma City. Rescue infers first response. The largest body of people on the USAR teams are rescuers.

Harold Sprague

From: Bill Polhemus <bill(--nospam--at)>
Reply-To: <seaint(--nospam--at)>
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: Re: Katrina emergency response
Date: Tue, 06 Sep 2005 14:49:23 -0500

Harold Sprague wrote:

There are a few things that should be considered in gauging the response to date.

1.  FEMA Urban Search and Rescue are considered first responders.


FEMA and the Feds are BY DESIGN meant to mobilize no sooner than 72 hours after the disaster strikes.

Anyone who thinks that bloated, bureaucratic nightmare can mobilize any faster than that is smokin' something.


Is that REALLY that hard to understand?

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