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Victorian search & rescue team joins NZ earthquake response

Friday, 04 March 2011

Victoria has again responded in the aftermath of Christchurch’s devastating earthquake, with the deployment of eleven urban search and rescue technicians as part of an international response team flying into New Zealand today.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Peter Ryan said Victoria was sending eight Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) specialists from the MFB, SES and CFA, as well as two Ambulance Victoria paramedics and a structural engineer.

“These highly-trained urban search and rescue operators will join a 72-strong Australian Taskforce that will assist with emergency response and recovery efforts,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said with each day, Christchurch continued to count the cost and understand the enormity of natural disaster.

“Victoria has joined national and worldwide response efforts in offering assistance to New Zealand in every way possible,” Mr Ryan said.

“It is a difficult but important task for USAR teams to search the many structures impacted by the earthquake to ensure the missing are accounted for.”

Mr Ryan said the work conducted by Urban Search and Rescue technicians was demanding and the new Australian team would act on a ten-day rotation to relieve current teams.

“More than 120 Victorian police officers were deployed to New Zealand last week to help keep the broader Christchurch community safe and to help maintain law and order and Victoria has also provided paramedic peer support to help debrief New Zealand ambulance personnel,” Mr Ryan said.

“In sending Victoria’s deployment, there has been careful consideration around the level of resources that will be released to ensure Victoria maintains an appropriate level of capability in the event of a state-based or national incident.”

Victoria has more than 200 highly skilled urban search and rescue technicians. Victoria’s USAR teams are led by MFB but contain operators from CFA, SES and Ambulance Victoria trained in search and rescue, particularly in collapsed structures and confined spaces.

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