Wednesday, January 20, 2010

An update on VATF-1 operations in Haiti

Hi folks,
Here is an update on VA task force one SAR operations in Haiti from Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County board of supervisors. Great job Steve and all VATF-1 team members! Come home safe and soon....
your volunteer PIO

I wanted to share with you the most current update on our Fairfax County's Urban Search & Rescue's (USAR) efforts in Haiti. Since my e-bulletin last week, I have heard from many of you about how proud you are of our Fairfax County Fire & Rescue personnel. I have made sure our men and women who are in Haiti know of your expressions of pride and appreciation.

As I mentioned in my last Byline article on this subject, when our USAR team is activated, expenses are paid for by USAID, and not county tax dollars. Training, equipment, and personnel costs of Virginia Task Force 1 are paid for by the federal government on a regular basis. The County benefits by having personnel trained in search and rescue operations as a result of our relationship with USAID and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA). Additionally, when personnel are deployed, there is no loss in service to Fairfax County residents as minimum staffing continues around-the-clock for all fire stations and for all fire and medical units. The training and expertise that is gained by partnering with the federal government in times of local, regional, national, and international disasters and emergencies enhances and improves the skills of our firefighters and paramedics. Those skills are passed on to the residents of Fairfax County and surrounding jurisdictions on a daily basis, making Fairfax County a safer and better place to live and work.

As of January 20th, our VA-TF1 assigned to the earthquake in Haiti is continuing their efforts. They are safe and their morale is high. Fairfax County has a total of 117 team members plus another four on support missions in Haiti. The following is information from the USAR team's report this morning:

Number of rescues to date for the team is sixteen. The last rescue was completed last night when the team assisted French and Turkish teams in the rescue of a 25 year old female.

* To date, international Search and Rescue teams have rescued 122 individuals. U.S. Search and Rescue teams have rescued 43 of the 122.

* The team was awakened this morning at 0609 hours by a 6.1 magnitude aftershock - all team members were in their Base of Operations on the embassy grounds at the time and all are well.

* Tasks for today include deployment of Recon and Rescue assets to the new epicenter site - this assignment may prove to be lengthy due to the distance from the Base of Operations and extremely heavy traffic. The team will also be sending personnel back to the Hotel Montana to assist with delayering operations and the recovery of human remains.

* Poor satellite telephone reception continues to be an issue;however, hand-held radios are working very well

* Restock of supplies continues to be an issue. The team has restocked on water and MRE's. Bottled water is being reserved for crews working in the field and personnel in the Base of Operations are refilling empty bottles with water that is filtered on the embassy grounds.

* Team members are all physically, mentally and medically in good health with the exception of a few insect bites.

* Team members remain motivated from the continued success of the mission and continue to work extremely hard.

* Demobilization plans are being developed but no timeline for demobilization has been established.

The White House's website has information on how you can contribute to the relief effort and get information about any friends and family in Haiti: