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Members of LA search-rescue team return from New Zealand

March 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Members of Los Angeles County Fire's Urban Search and Rescue team returned home from New Zealand on Sunday after spending 10 days assisting in rescue and recovery efforts.

The more than 74-member team was made up of firefighters and paramedics rescue specialists, emergency room physicians, structural engineers, heavy equipment specialists, hazardous materials technicians, communications specialists and logistics specialists.

Thirty members returned Sunday. The remaining 44 members were tentatively scheduled to demobilize March 10.

They returned to Pacoima after working in the city of Christchurch, where the 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed at least 166 people.

Kathy Chen's husband, Joseph Chen, is a captain with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

She says the hardest part of having him gone was not being able to hear from him every day.

"We didn't know when they were coming back, so that made it tough," Chen said. "Just not knowing what's going on, not being able to e-mail him, call him or have any contact whatsoever."

Firefighter-paramedic Pat Kelly's family also waited to greet him.

"I'm very proud of him because he would put his life on the line to save somebody else," said Kelly's wife, M'liz Kelly.