Mansfield Firefighter Bruce Naslund just returned this week from providing relief and aid to the hard hit areas of Hurricane Sandy. He said it was a strange scene for him, as it is not an area he’s done that kind of work in before.
“You know we think of that area as not being prone to hurricanes,” he said. “It was a shock.”
Naslund is a member of the Federal Emergency Management Association’s [FEMA] Urban Search and Rescue Team. He said he’s done search and rescue operations for several different storms, including Hurricane Katrina, the Western Massachusetts Tornadoes and Tropical Storm Irene.
“We were mostly deployed in New York,” he said. “We did a lot of well-being checks, you know, to make sure everyone was OK.”
Naslund said they went out there on that Tuesday and started working immediately. He said it was different than other times because they worked throughout the day.
“We usually work in two shifts,” he said.
Naslund said that, while Hurricane Sandy was bad, he’s had much worse calls on the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team.
“My first time was 9/11, so there really is no comparison,” he said.
FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue division is made up of many different aspects of medical and firefighter skills. The following is from their Web site:
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. The events may be slow in developing, as in the case of hurricanes, or sudden, as in the case of earthquakes.