Governor Perdue Announces Heavy Search and Rescue Capabilities

Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue announced today, during Firefighter Appreciation Day ceremonies at the State Capitol, that the State of Georgia will soon have its own heavy search and rescue capabilities to respond to incidents involving collapsed structures, such as September 11, 2001.

"I am proud that these Georgia Search and Rescue Teams will strengthen the capability of Georgia firefighters to do what they do best - protect the lives and safety of Georgians," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "We will have a safer Georgia because of these Search and Rescue Teams and because of the bravery, professionalism, and devotion to duty of our Georgia firefighters."

Through $9 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP), three Georgia Search and Rescue (GSAR) teams are being established. Once in place, Georgia will have one of the few state-initiated heavy search and rescue programs in the nation. Currently, the state depends on federal Urban Search and Rescue teams located in Miami, Florida and Memphis, Tennessee, for this type of specialized response. The following fire departments will serve as hosts for the teams and equipment:

  • Georgia SAR Coastal - Glynn County and City of Savannah
  • Georgia SAR Central - Macon/Bibb County and Houston County
  • Georgia SAR Metro - Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Clayton Counties, and City of Atlanta

The host fire departments will receive identical vehicles, the equipment to outfit the response units, and 78 personnel with specialized training. Each team member will undergo approximately 400 hours of search and rescue training to receive certification. The GSAR teams will be able to respond to incidents across the state under mutual aid, but the local jurisdictions will own the vehicles and equipment. The goal of the GSAR teams is to have a four hour response capability anywhere in the state. The first two heavy search and rescue trucks are expected to be delivered in mid-May with the remainder delivered by late summer or early fall.

Since the Department of Justice initiated Domestic Preparedness Grants in 1999, approximately $23.7 million has been awarded to fire departments throughout the state. Over half of the ODP grant recipients have been fire departments representing over 175 grants.

Heavy search-and-rescue 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.     # # #