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Posted on: August 10, 2023

Update: Washington State Task Force-1 Bolsters Search and Rescue Efforts in Hawaii

Updated 8/13/2023

In a continued effort to provide vital assistance, the Washington State Task Force-1 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (WA-TF1) has augmented its support to Hawaii's search and rescue operations by sending an additional 30 members of the task force.  

The additional members will be joining the members who have been on the ground actively supporting Hawaii's search and rescue missions since their deployment on August 10 to form an 80-person Type 1 team.

Washington State Task Force-1 deploying to Hawaii to assist with search and rescue.

Washington State Task Force-1 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (WA-TF1) has been activated to support Hawaii and assist in search and rescue missions. The Type 3 team, consisting of 45 people from Pierce and King counties and the City of Seattle Fire Department, are leaving August 10. A five-person K-9 human remains detection group is going with the Type 3 team. Based out of the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, the team could be deployed for up to 14 days.

WA-TF1 includes representatives from Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Seattle Fire Department, South King Fire and Rescue, Tacoma Fire Department, Valley Regional Fire Authority, Central Pierce Fire and Rescue, West Pierce Fire and Rescue, Bellevue Fire Department, Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority, Shoreline Fire Department, Renton Regional Fire Department, Gig Harbor Fire Department, Mercer Island Fire Department, Bothell Fire Department, Redmond Fire Department, Coeur d’Alene Fire Department, Kirkland Fire Department, Eastside Fire & Rescue, Tacoma Public Utilities, Pierce County Planning and Public Works, and Pierce County Department of Emergency Management.

The entire task force is comprised of more than 210 team members, drawn from a variety of organizations including fire departments, hospitals, law enforcement, private companies and public works agencies. Canine teams accompany WA-TF1 members on all deployments.

The task force is equipped and ready to deploy within six hours of receiving its orders. 

The team is trained and equipped to conduct the following missions:

  • Physical search and rescue operations in damaged/collapsed structures
  • Emergency medical care for entrapped survivors, task force personnel and search canines
  • K-9 human remains detection
  • Reconnaissance to assess damage and needs, and provide feedback to local, state, tribal, territorial and federal officials. 
  • Assessment/shut-off of utilities to houses and other buildings
  • Hazardous materials surveys/evaluations
  • Structural/hazard evaluations of buildings needed for immediate occupancy to support disaster relief operations
  • Stabilizing damaged structures, including shoring and cribbing operations on damaged buildings
  • Hazardous Materials Equipment Push Packages for operations in a contaminated environment
  • Search and rescue operations in a water environment
  • Decontamination of personnel and canines at the base of operations

The team was last deployed to Oregon in September 2020 for search and rescue efforts during wildfires in that state.

WA-TF1 was established in 1991. There are 28 US&R teams across the United States.

# # #

Mike Halliday, public information specialist
253-244-8766 (mobile) 
[email protected]


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