FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Teams : Considering an Improved Strategy for an Evolving Homeland Security Enterprise
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The United States governments role in preparing for, preventing, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters is coordinated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Further, FEMA is designated as the primary agency responsible for coordinating Structural Collapse (Urban) Search and Rescue (US and R) situations in the National Response Framework. Since the inception of FEMA resources intended for response to US and R missions, the national search and rescue system has evolved, along with the numbers and types of other resources available to assist in US and R missions. Nonetheless, a disconnect remains, with no common national US and R strategy that effectively brings together available federal resources from FEMA, the Department of Defense, and other partner agencies. FEMA states that urban search and rescue is considered a multi-hazard discipline, as the teams can hypothetically be utilized for response to a wide variety of natural and man-made emergencies or disasters. Although the present FEMA US and R task force model has worked well for certain types of disasters, this thesis explores responses to past events and considers a new strategy that could allow the US and R teams to be used more effectively and efficiently in an evolving Homeland Security enterprise.
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