Local search & rescue crews on the ready


There are tornados...and there are monsters.

While the damage won't be calculated for some time, the destruction is evident; a massive event and tragedy that has local urban search and rescue workers on standby.

"If they need us we'll be there."

Lieutenant Paul Cusic's full time job is at Baltimore County's Texas station on York Road, but he and about 20 other firefighters from this station are part of Pennsylvania Task Force One.

It's a FEMA team called on in emergencies like the one in Oklahoma City, sifting through rubble, looking for survivors and shoring up structures.

Right now, the feds have mobilized teams closer to the mid-west but as the scope of this thing grows, there is always the chance Pennsylvania Task Force One is called into rotation.

"I can get a phone call as I am standing here talking to you and I have to answer.   They want to know my availability for the next 10 to 14 days.  Once they decide yeah we're gonna mobilize, I got a couple of hours to get home, get my things and head up to our meeting place," said Cusic.

The reality of it is the feds may not call on the Pennsylvania task force but if Oklahoma City does need the help, the mid-Atlantic region has a deep bench.

A Northeast Baltimore warehouse houses the Central Maryland Task Force; a regional urban search and rescue operation with more than a 140 members from fire departments throughout our area.

"If the request comes in we would definitely be able to help."

Lieutenant Scott Merbach is the program manager of the state USAR team and says if they got the call, up to two shifts of 70 responders along with these massive pre-loaded trailers and other equipment could hit the road in just two hours.

"Rescue tools such as saws, concrete breakers, tents, meals ready to eat and water so we can be self- sustained for seven days," says Merbach.

This regional team has less of a chance of deployment than the local FEMA operation, but both say they are ready and willing.

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