Maxwell houses Urban Search, Rescue teams

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- More than 250 members of Urban Search and Rescue teams from across the country arrived at Maxwell on Sept 8 to provide direct support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Hurricane Ike operations.

Urban SAR teams are called upon during national emergencies such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks to provide initial medical response and structural stabilization.

The teams are comprised of emergency managers and planners, physicians and paramedics, and include specialists in the fields of structural engineering, heavy rigging, collapse rescue, logistics, hazardous materials, communications, canine and water search and rescue. Some teams from as far away as California were stationed in Atlanta in anticipated response to Hurricane Hanna. They moved to Maxwell earlier in the week in expectation of deployments to the Texas coast for Hurricane Ike.

With only a few hours' notice, members of the 42nd Air Base Wing were ready to accommodate the team members. They were placed in the dormitories at Officer Training School and fed in the base's dining facilities. The base is a designated National Logistical Staging Area, and officials here remain alert to possible severe weather evacuation emergencies.

Maxwell has undergone more than 15 consecutive days of emergency operations activity.

"The ops tempo for evacuee support and emergency response staging has been incredibly high," said Col. Kris Beasley, 42nd Air Base Wing commander. "Our entire wing, supported by other organizations across Air University and Maxwell-Gunter AFB, has surged every day for more than two weeks to provide much-needed support to relief efforts for Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike."

Base personnel continue their vigilance as Hurricane Ike swirls in the Gulf of Mexico and hurricane season peaks.