California Sends Highly Specialized Search and Rescue Unit to Support Efforts in Wake of Turkey Earthquake 


To aid in the rapid response to a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Turkey & Syria early Monday, a California Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) team from Los Angeles will depart this evening to assist in life-saving search and rescue operations.

At the direction of Governor Gavin Newson, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) is coordinating the deployment of USA-2 team from the Los Angeles County Fire Department, one of two teams in the nation that is qualified for this international response. USA-2 has undergone extensive training, including advanced mobilization exercises and international diplomacy to be prepared for a response of this nature.

The team will consist of 81 personnel, six K9 teams and three structural engineers.

“California is proud to lend aid to our neighbors in Turkey as they work quickly to respond to this catastrophic earthquake,” said Nancy Ward, Cal OES Director. “These US&R-trained professional firefighters will use their highly technical skills to assist in search and rescue efforts.”

This team from Los Angeles will join a team from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department in Virginia, known as USA-1, as the two teams who will lend aid on behalf of the United States.

Activated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which is a government agency leading international development and humanitarian efforts, these U.S. teams will work in coordination with others on the ground to provide rapid aid to the people of Turkey.

About the earthquake

The magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck 16 miles east of Nurdagi, Turkey at a depth of 11 miles. Multiple strong aftershocks have been felt across the region for hours after the first quake, including one measuring 7.5 magnitude.

Previous National and International Aid

Recently, Cal OES helped coordinate FEMA’s request for deployment of California-based state/national US&R teams and US&R Incident Support Team members to Hurricanes Barry and Dorian. Since 1992, California-based US&R Task Forces and/or US&R overhead 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, and Hurricanes Earl, Mathew, Harvey, Maria (2017), Irma, lane, Olivia, and Michael.