Haitian first responders will be better prepared to meet future emergencies thanks to training provided by the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID. To help Haitian local capacity for disaster response, USAID provided Urban Search and Rescue training to 25 volunteer first responders.
The Urban Search and Rescue, or USAR, experts came from Fairfax County, Virginia and Los Angeles County, California to conduct training from July 12th to July 18th for first responders from volunteer firemen in Haiti's West Department.
The training helped build the skills needed to locate and extricate trapped victims, focusing on the proper use of the search and rescue equipment donated by USAR teams from California and Virginia to the Haitian Volunteer Firefighters Association in February of this year.
The equipment, valued at an estimated $500,000, was used by the USAR teams deployed by USAID in the rescue of 47 Haitians trapped under the rubble of the major earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12.
"This training will provide these dedicated Haitian volunteer firefighters with the skills necessary to safely make live rescues from a structure in the immediate aftermath of a collapse," said Carleene Dei, USAID Mission Director for Haiti.
Chief Ardouin Zephirin of the Haitian Volunteer Firefighters Association said the training will help build Haiti's local capacity to respond to a disaster, and the twenty-five firefighters who received the training will be able to train other first responders throughout Haiti.
Highlights of the USAR training include safety, engineering, resource management, and response operations, training in lifting and moving portions of collapsed structures; proper shoring of portions of collapsed structures; and the construction and use of a rope rescue system used to lower a load under control.
USAID has been working to strengthen Urban Search and Rescue capacities in Haiti since the November 2008 collapse of a primary school in Port-au-Prince that resulted in the deaths of 100 people, mostly children. In the aftermath of the school collapse, USAID deployed the Fairfax County USAR team to assist Haitian firefighters and other rescue workers.
As Secretary Clinton said in the 6 month commemoration of the earthquake, "the United States is committed to aligning our investments with the needs of the people and Government of Haiti. Six months later, our resolve to stand with the people of Haiti for the long term remains undiminished. We are committed to helping them realize the Haitian vision for a better nation."