Firefighters and other rescue personnel who responded to the recent tragic school collapse in Haiti were supported by a special United States disaster recovery team that was quickly dispatched to the scene by the U.S. Government. Members of the Fairfax County (Virginia) Urban Search and Rescue team helped dig through the wreckage of College La Promesse Evangelique outside Port-au-Prince to search for and extract survivors.
Firefighters from a community near Washington, D.C., comprise the team, which uses trained dogs and specialized equipment to search through demolished buildings for possible survivors in a way that aims to prevent further collapse. Over the years, they have been deployed to disaster scenes far from their home base. The last time the full team was deployed was 2003 after an earthquake in Bam, Iran.
The mission in Haiti is further proof of the United States' commitment to aiding neighboring nations in times of need.
The U.S. Agency for International Development coordinated the mission, which arrived at the school within hours of its collapse on November 7. At least 90 people were killed in the disaster. An investigation of the cause is under way.
"This is a tragic situation, especially since children are involved. We are working alongside the Haitian government to provide immediate assistance in the rescue effort," USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore said. The American people convey their sympathy, thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones of all the victims of this tragedy.