The United States Agency for International Development said on Monday evening that it was deploying two specialized search and rescue teams as part of the official American response to the deadly earthquake in Turkey and Syria, adding to the thousands of rescue workers trying to reach the devestated region.
The two county-level urban search and rescue units, based in Virginia and California, are the only such teams in the United States that work internationally, Anthony Marrone, the interim chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, said at a news conference on Monday evening.
Both have experience responding to earthquakes around the world, including in Japan, Mexico and Nepal.
The United States is one of several countries that said it would dispatch rescue teams to the earthquake zone, including Britain, India, Israel and several nations from the European Union.
The 78-member team deploying from Los Angeles County to Turkey will include not only firefighters, but also paramedics, rescue specialists, physicians and structural engineers from other agencies, Chief Marrone said. He said the team members were traveling with dogs that are trained to find people under rubble.
“They are going to put their lives on the line,” he said. “Make no doubt about it. I pray for their safety and their return, and the fact that can actually make an impactful difference for the people that are suffering.”
The other American team traveling to Turkey is based in Fairfax County, Va., and is approximately the same size. Samantha Power, the U.S.A.I.D. administrator, said in a statement on Monday that the California and Virginia teams would be part of a larger disaster response team that is working with the Turkish authorities.