Report Looks at California’s USAR Task Force 2

A recent report from National Public Radio took a closer look at California’s Task Force 2, based in Los Angeles County, and some of its responses and duties.

The report consisted of an interview with Vince Beiser, who wrote about Task Force 2 for California Sunday Magazine.

Beiser said the team is made up of mostly firefighters. “ordinary sort of workaday firefighters, the guys who show up at traffic accidents and put out grass fires,” said Beister, “and get cats out of tree.” It’s rounded out by a handful of civilian engineers and civilian doctors.

“And what happens is when the biggest disasters hit–when there’s something on the level of a Hurricane Katrina or an Asian tsunami or a Nepal earthquake–these guys get called up,” Beiser said. “And within hours, they’re out at the disaster scene, wading through the streets or picking through the rubble and rescuing survivors.”

In the report, Beiser discussed a recent rescue the team participated in during the devastating Nepal earthquake. After other international search and rescue teams had gone home. Los Angeles was still there when a huge aftershock struck. Team members immediately set to work, searching for life.

“So they get to work, crawling on their stomachs with saws, cutting through the stuff they find in their way, right? There’s still aftershocks happening all the time. And all of that rubble–there’s tons and tons of rubble over the top of them–could come down at any minute,” Beiser said.

“And eventually, one guy who’s in the tunnel pulls out a chunk of rubble and sees the top of a woman’s head. So eventually, you know, step-by-step, literally brick-by-brick, they pulled that stuff away, managed to roll the thing off of her and dragged her out and just laid her down on the rubble to start treating her right there in the open air.”

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