LA County Team Deploys to New Zealand

The team will help in the search after a magnitude-6.3 quake

A Los Angeles County Fire Department task force left Tuesday for New Zealand.

California Task Force 2 left Los Angeles International Airport around  11:15 p.m. Tuesday aboard a commercial airliner bound for Christchurch. The crew will assist in rescue operations  in that nation's second-largest city, where a magnitude-6.3 earthquake killed  more than 60 people.

At least 300 people were still missing early Wednesday, according to NBC News.

California Task Force 2 is a specially-trained and equipped Urban Search  and Rescue team with 74 members, consisting of firefighters, paramedics and  rescue specialists; along with emergency room physicians, structural engineers,  heavy equipment specialists, hazardous materials technicians, communications  specialists and logistics specialists.

The team also aided in search-and-rescue operations in Haiti.

"We have a lot of structures that look like buildings here," said Capt. Bryan Wells. "A lot of the damage looks like a Loma Prieta-type earthquake where some buildings are still standing but other buildings are damaged severely. Whereas in Haiti, everything was pretty much wiped out."

The team responds with 55,000 pounds of prepackaged search-and-rescue  tools and medical equipment. Personnel can conduct search-and-rescue operations at domestic and international disasters, both natural and man-made.

The team received the request for assistance from the U.S. Agency for  International Development, and was staging Tuesday at the fire department's USAR  facility in Pacoima.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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