Los Angeles County Fire Dept. search and rescue teams return from Nepal

PACOIMA, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After nearly three weeks in Nepal, nearly 60 search and rescue team members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department were welcomed back into the arms of family and friends in Pacoima on Friday.

The men and women -- part of the federal government's Disaster Assistance Response Team -- traveled to Nepal to help in the rescue efforts a day after the deadly quake struck on April 25.

The country still reeling from the first massive earthquake suffered another magnitude-7.3 earthquake earlier this week.

More than 8,000 people have been killed since the quakes struck.

Team members spoke of successful rescues, calling the deployment challenging but rewarding.

"It was a great team effort. Great group effort. Everybody stayed safe. We had all the capabilities we needed to get people out of deep rubble that overwhelms the locals," said Dr. Atilla Uner, medical team manager.

The team was part of a rescue effort that pulled a 15-year-old boy buried under the concrete for five days and a woman from a collapsed building.

"She had some concrete holding her legs, pinning her underneath the collapse. We had minimal tools. We were able to dig around her and lift the concrete off her legs while she was in the hole, and we were able to drag her out," Capt. Gerald Gonzales said.

Sara Rathburn said she gained valuable experience should a similarly large quake hit Southern California.

"We learn about the patterns that are created when buildings fall. We learn about the types of injuries and we get valuable hands-on practice. You can't really simulate something like that," Rathburn said.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.