Urban Search & Rescue System was established under the authority of the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in 1989. It is a framework
for structuring local emergency service personnel into integrated
disaster response task forces.
As the threats related to the Cold
War began to diminish in the early 1990's, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) transitioned its strategic planning initiatives
from those of Civil Defense to concepts similar to those which had begun
by USAID-OFDA; domestic mitigation, response, and recovery. When
FEMA announced plans to develop a domestic National US&R Response
System, Virginia Beach Fire Department was one of the original
respondents. Accepted into the domestic system in 1991, the
resource was then deemed operational by FEMA. The Task Force is
proud to be one of the only 28 domestic resources qualified by FEMA to
assist with Homeland Security.
The Virginia Task Force 2 Urban Search & Rescue is a specialized team
organized and managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The purpose of this specialized team and its highly trained individuals
is to assist localities that have been devastated by a catastrophic
disaster, natural disaster, terrorist incident, and/or other wise.
The team responds with the expertise and experience in handling such
Virginia Task Force 2 is a specialized rescue organization comprised of
highly trained Firefighters, EMS Personnel, Dog Handlers, Engineers, and
Physicians from various cities and departments throughout the region.
The team is made up of a core group of individuals trained specifically
to handle such emergencies. More than 210 Firefighters and EMS
personnel from various departments throughout Southeastern Virginia,
along with many other professionals from specialty fields comprise to
make-up this elite team of highly trained professionals.
Virginia Task Force 2, Urban Search & Rescue resource is sponsored by
the Virginia Beach Fire Department Virginia Beach, Virginia and is
capable of responding to various types of domestic disaster responses
throughout the United States of America.
The Task Force (Virginia Task Force 2) has extensive domestic disaster
response experience in a variety of mission assignments, such as
Terrorist Attacks, Hurricanes, etc. It's also recognized
throughout the United States, as one of the premier leaders in the
provisions of training in catastrophic event mitigation, readiness, and
response and victim recovery techniques. It also sponsors an
Annual Structural Collapse Technician School in order to provide
and prepare US&R personnel with the skills associated in handling these
types mission assignments.
The Department realizes the importance of supporting the Task Force and
its personnel in their mission of delivering valuable resources to
localities effected by such disasters. During the deployment of
the Task Force, highly trained personnel are readily available to
provide assessment evaluations, planning, mitigation, and victim
recovery during any deployment mission. The various departments
support these efforts through the continuous training of Task Force
personnel in the various components utilized to effectively operate
during the teams assigned missions.
Virginia Task Force
2 can be deployed by FEMA to any National Emergency or Disaster at
anytime throughout the year.
In total, there are more than 200 highly trained and readily equipped
members on the Task Force eager to respond at a moments notice.
When activated, the Task Force is comprised of 80 personnel that
consists of firefighters and paramedics from various departments
throughout the region (both career and volunteer) and highly trained
civilians including physicians, canine handlers, structural engineers,
communications experts, and heavy rigging specialists. When activated by
FEMA, all related expenses are fully reimbursed by either, resulting in
no cost to the citizens of these localities.
Task Force members are required to attend functional training throughout
the year in order to maintain their skills, often without compensation.
The members agree that this is a small personal cost and well-worth the
investment of being a partner of this elite and talented response
resource. The Task Force conducts annual full team exercises, both
consisting of classroom and practical intervention each year. Task
Force members are also required to complete mandatory annual maintenance
The Task Force realizes that it takes many partnerships to ensure a
successful venture. It speaks often of its relationship with FEMA, as
well as its evolving initiatives and networking with other Task Forces.
The members fully realize that the most important partnerships are with
their families and their co-workers. Deployed without warning,
often in the dark of night, the members need to be ensured that they and
their family members can accept the restrictions of a 14-day mission,
often without communications to the home front. The members also
realize the importance of their co-workers, who will be required to work
extra shifts while the Task Force is away. The Task Force could
not be successful without this strong support and assistance of their
During recent years,
the members of VATF-2 and their families would come face-to-face
realizing just how important these relationships with one another
and their jurisdictions. For the first time in the history of
the inception of the task force, members would find themselves being
deployed internationally to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti in response to a
devastating 7.1 earthquake, which demolished most of this countries
infrastructure. This deployment would soon present a new
challenge for all of those involved, anticipating and not knowing
what lied ahead of them. Being deployed to a third world
country certainly presented new challenges for the team and those on
the deployment, but nothing that these experienced and well trained
task force members weren't already prepared for.
VATF-2 has been exposed to many different environments
throughout its inception and welcomes all deployments
with open arms. All task force members are
operationally ready and willing to acknowledge their
mission assignments as directed by FEMA's operational