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More rescue teams head to Haiti from SoCal

January 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Just hours after a search and rescue team from L.A. County touched down in Haiti, another team of emergency responders is ready to leave Southern California for Haiti from the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside.

For Task Force 5 it is hurry up and wait. The team started assembling Wednesday night in Irvine and they were in Riverside by Thursday morning ready to go. But the Air Force is not ready. A transport is being flown in to carry the team to Haiti.

"You have to kind of get in line with the available aircraft," said Battalion Chief Jim Bailey, Task Force Leader. "We need some specialized aircraft to move all of this stuff as you might imagine. It's a little different than jumping on a 767 and getting there. We're no good unless we have our gear."

When they get there the search and rescue team should be ready for just about anything. They are bringing with them tons if equipment and supplies along with more than 70 fire fighters, paramedics, and of course the search and rescue dogs they are counting on to lead them to survivors trapped in rubble.

"I believe that people are still alive in that rubble," said Rich Bartlett, canine handler. "That situation that they have there is devastating but there are situations that we will be able to find people and get them out."

Task Force 5 is following in the footsteps of Task Force 2, the L.A. County based team which touched down in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday morning. Both teams are confident they can find and save lives once they get to work.

"We've got devices that can find people that are buried under yards of rubble, debris, multi-layers of concrete," said Bailey. "We can cut through that, a tunnel through that and reach in and rescue those victims."

The work will be hard, the conditions unlike anything many of these specialists have ever seen, but it is what they have trained for. It is what that have been waiting for, the chance to save lives.