Urban Search and Rescue team trains for unstable buildings in em - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Urban Search and Rescue team trains for unstable buildings in emergencies

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Urban Search and Rescue has two divisions in Iowa, Sioux City and Cedar Rapids. 

They respond to a variety of emergencies statewide and are paid for by state grants. 

Today the Cedar Rapids team was training at the old Cooper's Mill hotel which was bought out by the city after the recent flood. 

They were building what they call raker shores, which essentially keep an unstable building from collapsing. 

"In the instance that a building might be structurally unsound and somebody's trapped on the inside of it, so for us to go rescue them we have to make sure the building doesn't fall on them and on us," says Rick Halleran, Task Force Leader for Urban Search & Rescue. 

Urban Search and Rescue in Iowa got started in 2003 and at first they mostly worked to make buildings structurally stable after disasters, but they have grown to assist in many other emergency situations. 

"Everything from structural collapse and missing people or swift water or technical rescues, tower rescues," Halleran says. 

Cedar Rapids firefighter Andrew Engelken joined the team just three weeks ago. 
"We travel all over to any kind of disasters that we have," he told us.

"It's kind of an elite team and it's something I've been wanting to do since I joined the department," he added. 

Halleran describes the team as a step between a local response and calling in federal help like FEMA. 
"Internal departments can mitigate a lot of those things but smaller communities in the state don't have that. So if they would need some technical expertise they can go through their emergency director, their county emergency director, contact the state, the state of Iowa contacts us and asks if we can provide some assistance to them," he says. 

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