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LAFD search-and-rescue teams on standby for Oklahoma

May 21, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
As rescuers in Oklahoma look through neighborhoods hardest hit by Monday's tornado, local urban search-and-rescue teams are on standby, training just in case they're needed.

When it comes to finding survivors, man's best friend is the first responder for L.A. City Fire's Urban Search-and-Rescue team.

"The best tool that they have in their chest is a canine nose. They can detect live human scent buried under even tons of rubble or tons of debris," said Deresa Teller of L.A. City Fire's Urban Search-and-Rescue.

It's also the safest way for first responders to search for survivors. Once they get a scent, that's the area where rescue teams will begin their search.

Before digging, they use cameras to pinpoint someone's exact location under the debris.

"We also have a 300-foot cable that we could drop down so that gives us communication with the victim and light, and the psychology of victims is that if they know that people are there and attempting to rescue, they have a much higher survival rate," said Hollyn Bullock of L.A. City Fire's Urban Search-and-Rescue.

One of the main things urban search-and-rescue teams have to be aware of when they're working a disaster like the one in Oklahoma is more tornadoes.

"We have our own safety officers in our plans, and we will protect our own people, as well as people we're rescuing based on the knowledge and intel we get from weather," said Chief Mark Akahoshi.

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