RIO GRANDE VALLEY REGIONAL URBAN SEARCH AND RESCUE TASK FORCE
The Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council held a kickoff meeting on August 22, 2013 to announce to police and fire chiefs from departments across the area that Texas Task Force One (TX-TF1) is developing a new Type 3 Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) team to be based in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
The new team's focus will be to provide emergency response during regional emergencies such as flash flooding, wide area search, structural collapse and other natural and manmade disasters. The team will be able to mobilize for state emergency deployment within four hours.
TX-TF1 was formed in 1997 after the attack on the Alfred P. Murrow building in Oklahoma City in 1995 made it clear that there was an urgent need for elite urban search and rescue teams that could be mobilized quickly anywhere across the U.S. and sustain themselves in severe conditions. Since 1997, TX-TF1 has been deployed over 90 times, including the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center, Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Ike, the Joplin tornado, and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas.
Although local communities in the Lower Rio Grande Valley have long been developing their emergency response capabilities and have skilled rescue teams trained by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), first responders in the area could never participate as part of TX-TF1 because of the requirement that they be in College Station within six hours for deployment.
Interviews for selected applicants will begin this year, with the goal of having the new team ready for deployment in nine to twelve months. Members selected for the new regional team will meet the same standards, commitment level and training requirements as TX-TF1.
FEMA Type 1 US&R Team: 70-person team capable of 24-hour operations. Designed to be logistically self-sufficient for the first 72 hours of operation, a Type 1 team is able to function for 10 to 14 days under remote and austere conditions with support.
Type 3 US&R Team: 31-person team capable of 12-hour operations, with the robust communications capabilities, specialized search devices, and rescue cache to perform light breaching and breaking.
Quick Response Force (QRF): small, fast-moving force that can be pre-deployed to areas that will be overwhelmed by the effects of manmade or natural disasters. It provides specialized resources to assist local jurisdictions with search and rescue (SAR) of victims affected by the disasters. The focus of this force is to provide pre-incident SAR (for notice events) and quick strike capability to ensure maximum survivability of victims. The QRF is a Special Operations branch of TX-TF1 and its intent is to be fast-moving for quick rescues and information-gathering. QRF members use specialized search and rescue tools with transportation assets for both land and water SAR. Members on the QRF are fully qualified in swift water and flood rescue operations.