MO-TF1 Organization
What is an Urban Search and Rescue Task Force?
An Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force is a 70-member team that is qualified and equipped to search for and rescue victims entombed in collapsed reinforced concrete and steel structures. A US&R Task Force, at its most effective level, is a highly sophisticated, personnel intensive, equipment intensive and training intensive program. It requires a significant investment in time, management, training and equipment.
Through the development of a Missouri Task Force for Urban Search and Rescue, Missouri is now assured of a response to assist local communities in a variety of emergencies or disaster situations within two to six hours, in most cases.
An extensive equipment cache must be maintained to support the task force. Task force members receive hundreds of hours of highly specialized training and will train and assist in the development of regional teams in the future.
Missouri Urban Search and Rescue Task Force
In concert with SEMA, the Boone County Fire Protection District has coordinated the development of an Urban Search and Rescue Task Force – Missouri Task Force 1 (MO-TF1). This US&R Task Force operates as a state resource under SEMA in a similar capacity to those established in California. The Boone County Fire Protection District serves as a resource for personnel, management and training and maintains a vast equipment cache.
To insure the availability of a 70-member task force, 186 personnel must be trained and equipped pursuant to federal guidelines. All personnel assigned to Missouri Task Force 1 have volunteered their time and effort in the development and preparation of the task force. To date, in excess of 90,000 hours have been donated to the effort.
In 1997, Missouri Task Force One was designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as on of two additional federal task forces. Following national competition, the progress made within Missouri was recognized as the most significant and productive among twenty finalists. It was noted that Missouri had come farther, faster than any other task force in the system.
The Task Force will be deployed throughout Missouri by SEMA. Request for an out-of-state response will be made by the federal government to SEMA in Jefferson City. The director of SEMA will then obtain the governor’s consent to deploy the Task Force, the cost of which would be accepted by FEMA. If within 10-12 hours of Columbia, Missouri, the task force is typically deployed by road. If a federal response is ordered beyond reasonable road distances, military airlift is authorized. The equipment cache is maintained in a ready condition and certified to military airlift standards.
What does it take to rescue people trapped in collapsed buildings?
The process of locating, accessing, removing and providing medical care to persons trapped in a collapsed building is an equipment and personnel intensive operation. Five distinct and specific areas make up the US&R Task Force – Search, Rescue, Medical, Logistics and Planning. Essentially, a rescue goes something like this:
The search team ventures around and into the collapsed structure attempting to locate trapped victims and identify dangerous areas. The team uses electronic listening devices, extremely small search cameras with fiber-optic capability and specially trained search dogs to locate victims.
The rescue team, once victims are located, goes about the daunting task of breaking and cutting through literally thousands of pounds of concrete, metal and wood to reach the victims. The entry and work areas in and around the building must be supported with wood shoring to prevent further collapse. Equipment used includes concrete cutting chain saws valued at $26,000 and other highly expensive breaching and breaking tools. Heavy riggers interface with local crane and heavy equipment operators.
The hazardous materials team, is responsible for detecting hazardous materials at an incident scene.
Once the trapped people are reached, they must be freed by backing them out through the hole the rescue group made to reach them. They will likely need medical attention.
The medical team, composed of emergency medicine/trauma physicians and paramedics, provides the medical care for the victims and the Task Force members. They enter the dangerous interior of the collapsed structure to render aid to the victims. A completely stocked mobile emergency room is part of the Task Force equipment cache of some 16,200 items.
The logistics team, composed of communications specialists and logistics specialists, provides support functions for the other teams. Communications specialists operate the extensive communications system used by the task force and logistics specialists have the daunting task of tracking and maintaining the over 16,000 individual pieces of equipment and supplies in the equipment cache.
The plans team composed of technical information specialists, hazardous materials specialists and structural engineers. Engineers assess the potential for additional collapse, hazardous materials specialists deal with environmental conditions which may pose danger for rescue workers and the planning team managers and technical information specialists collect and analyze data and incident information so as to anticipate future work plans and task force needs. This group also assists the task force leaders with the development of the mission assignments for each operational period.
Please take a look at the MO-TF1 Organizational Chart to gain further knowledge of how MO-TF1 is structured.
 

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