California Deploying Specialized Urban Search & Rescue Resources to Kentucky Amid Tornado Swarm


At the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Governor Gavin Newsom through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) approved the deployment of California-based Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Resources that are a part of the National/FEMA US&R Incident Support Team (IST) to assist the state of Kentucky due to dozens of tornados. The swarm of tornados swept through at least six states, killing more than 70 people in Kentucky, and leaving a trail of destruction that stretched more than 200 miles.

The California personnel deploying to this region come from two of the eight California-based state/national Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces. At this time, two IST members from California-FEMA US&R Task Force 7 (Sacramento City Fire Department) and California-FEMA US&R Task Force 5 (Orange County Fire Authority) are being deployed to Kentucky. These specialists will use their specialized skills and disaster response experience to assist in the coordination of state/national US&R teams conducting search and rescue operations in support of local, state, and other federal resources.

Cal OES will continue to monitor operations and requests for resources.


These personnel is part of the National US&R Response System and the State Fire & Rescue Mutual Aid System  There are 28 National Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces within the continental United States, with eight located in the state of California. In California, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Fire and Rescue, Special Operations Branch coordinates the California US&R Program.

Other California based State/FEMA Task Forces include:

  • CA Task Force 1 Los Angeles City Fire
  • CA Task Force 2 Los Angeles County Fire
  • CA Task Force 3 Menlo Park Fire Protection District
  • CA Task Force 4 Oakland Fire Department
  • CA Task Force 5 Orange County Fire Authority
  • CA Task Force 6 Riverside City Fire Department
  • CA Task Force 7 Sacramento City Fire Department
  • CA Task Force 8 San Diego Fire – Rescue Department

Since 1992, California-based US&R Task Forces and/or US&R overhead personnel; have been deployed to numerous state, national, and international disasters including Hurricane Iniki(1992), the 1994 Northridge earthquake, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 2004 Hurricanes Charlie, Frances, and Ivan, 2005 Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, and Dennis, 2007 Hurricanes Ike and Gustav, 2008 Hurricane Dolly, 2010 Haiti Earthquake, 2011 Christchurch Earthquake in New Zealand, 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, 2011 Hurricane Irene, 2012 Hurricane/Super Storm Sandy, the 2014 Oso landslide disaster in Washington State, the 2014 flooding in Colorado, the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, the 2017 Mexico City earthquake, Hurricanes Earl, Mathew, Harvey, Maria (2017), Irma, lane, Olivia, and Michael, 2020 Puerto Rico Earthquake and 2021 Surfside, Florida tower collapse.

US&R involves the location, rescue (extrication), and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces. Structural collapse is most often the cause of victims being trapped, but victims may also be trapped in transportation accidents, mines and collapsed trenches. Urban search and rescue is considered a “multi-hazard” discipline, as it may be needed for a variety of emergencies or disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, storms and tornadoes, floods, dam failures, technological accidents, terrorist activities, and hazardous materials releases.