Midlands rescue team volunteers sympathize with OK crews - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Midlands rescue team volunteers sympathize with OK crews

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

As crews in Oklahoma continue to carefully sift through rubble, a group of firefighters in Richland County knows what they're going through.

They're members of the state's urban search and rescue team.

It's a daunting job, even in training, as members dig for life through thousands of pounds of concrete, steel and glass. "Physically working a 45 pound pack hammer cutting through concrete while laying on your side in a very small hole," said Daniel McManus director of the South Carolina Urban Search and Rescue Team. "That's what structural collapse does to your rescuer, so we try to mirror that here."

The South Carolina Urban Search and Rescue Team is a volunteer group pulled together from 57 departments across the state designed to respond to an emergency within six hours.

The team has 125 members, most are specially trained firefighters, but they also have trauma doctors, K-9 units, and structural engineers.

Just the crew you'd need for a dangerous job like the kind being done in Oklahoma.

"We sympathize with them, because what they're doing is not easy whatsoever," McManus added. "You want to be there, you want to help. We train all year long to provide assistance like that and you want to go and help."

When the team does get the call, they can load up into three semis that are packed and ready at all times.

They're loaded with dozens of tools, thousands of batteries, and even tents for the team. "They remain ready, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to respond within the state, region and the country as well."

South Carolina's U-SAR team is one of the few across the country that's made up of volunteers from local departments.

The fire marshal says having a volunteer team saves the state almost a million dollars a year.

 

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.

 

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