Thursday, May 30, 2024
About US&R

Urban search-and-rescue (US&R) involves the location, rescue (extrication), and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces. Structural collapse is most often the cause of victims being trapped, but victims may also be trapped in transportation accidents, mines and collapsed trenches.

Urban search-and-rescue is considered a "multi-hazard" discipline, as it may be needed for a variety of emergencies or disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, storms and tornadoes, floods, dam failures, technological accidents, terrorist activities, and hazardous materials releases. The events may be slow in developing, as in the case of hurricanes, or sudden, as in the case of earthquakes.

What is a Structures Specialist?

A Structures Specialist performs various structural assessments for an Urban Search & Rescue Task Force during incident operations. The StS reports directly to the Planning Team Manager, but will often be assigned to the Search Team or Rescue Team Manager. The StS may be assigned other duties working directly in support of the IST Structural Unit Leader or as a Technical Liaison to the AHJ (Agency Having Jurisdiction) or some other Agency.

Description of Duties
The Structures Specialist is responsible for:

  • Assessing the immediate structural condition of the affected area of Task Force operations, which includes identifying structure types, specific damage and structural hazards.
  • Recommending the appropriate type and amount of structural hazard mitigation in order to minimize risks on site to task force personnel.
  • Cooperating with and assisting other search and rescue resources.
  • Monitoring assigned structures for condition changes while rescue and recovery operations are proceeding.
  • Assuming an active role in implementing approved structural hazard mitigation as a designer, inspector, and possibly a supervisor.
  • Coordinating and communicating the structural related hazard mitigation with IST Structural Unit Leader.
  • Accountability, maintenance, and minor repairs for all issued equipment.
  • Adhering to all safety procedures.

Position Requirements and Criteria
In addition to the basic US&R System requirements the StS must:

  • Have completed the FEMA Structural Specialist Course (StS1), facilitated by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Be currently licensed as a Professional Engineer with specialization in structures or equivalent as sanctioned by the FEMA US&R Structures Sub-Group.
  • Have a minimum of 5 years experience in structural design and analysis to include evaluation of existing structures, field investigation or construction observation/inspection experience.

Deployment Log
Arlington, VA, September 13, 2001-- Urban Search and Rescue crews from Montgomery County work to build columns to support the collapsed structure at the crash site following the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11. is designed to be a source of information that will improve the safety and efficiency of Structural Collapse Rescue Response. This is an independent site, and is not sponsored or supported by the Federal Government. The information contained herein is not warranted by the DHS/FEMA National US&R Response System, and they take no responsibility for its content.