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Miami-Dade Rescue Team to Search for Survivors of Terror Attacks - 2001-09-12

Emergency efforts in New York and Washington will soon get a boost from south Florida. Miami-Dade County is preparing to dispatch search and rescue teams to aid the search for survivors in the rubble of the World Trade Center complex and the Pentagon

Tuesday, federal emergency officials issued an urgent plea to Miami-Dade's crack rescue squad. The county immediately dispatched an advance team to Washington and mobilized its units, according to Fire Department Lt. Louis Fernandez. "This is a contingent of men and women and specialized canines that will help in the rescue and recovery effort," he said. "We realize that this is going to be an effort that is going to take weeks. Given the scope of the atrocities that took place in New York, I estimate that this will entail 60 days of search and recovery operations that will take place there."

Miami-Dade's search and rescue teams are among the most experienced in the country, having pulled survivors from some of the worst natural and man-made disasters the world has seen in recent years. Once again, Lt. Fernandez. "The Miami-Dade team is one of the most experienced," he said. "Our experience dates back to 1985 during the Mexico City earthquake. We have been to dozens of places around the world, including Armenia, the Philippines, and, in another terrorist attack on the United States, Oklahoma City. These are tri-lingual rescuers that serve as regular firefighters and paramedics. When a disaster strikes, they are able to respond within four hours."

The Miami-Dade teams are on stand-by and could be sent north as early as today.