Relief Efforts Under Way in L.A.

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City News Service

A Los Angeles-based relief agency was mobilizing today in response to the magnitude-8.9 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“We are putting together relief teams, as well as supplies, and are in contact with partners in Japan and other affected countries to assess needs and coordinate our activities,” Nancy Aossey, president and CEO of the International Medical Corps, said Friday morning.

“While Japan has a large capacity to manage a disaster of this scale, we will respond as needed,” she said.

IMC has responded to emergencies in more than 50 countries, including the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami, 2005 Pakistan earthquake, 2010 Haiti quake and Pakistan floods.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue team was asked Friday by the U.S. Agency for International Development to go to Japan.

Task Force 2 immediately began mobilizing at the USAR facility in Pacoima, and was awaiting the go-ahead to fly out of Los Angeles International Airport that evening, county fire Capt. Ed Lozano said.

The orders were expected to be issued in the afternoon, contingent on factors that include the arrangements to land in Japan, Lozano said.

The highly specialized task force, which draws from a pool of about 140 qualified members, recently completed an assistance mission in quake-ravaged New Zealand.

Some of those firefighters will be activated for duty in Japan, but others will be drawn from the reserve pool, Lozano said.

About 75 specially trained personnel will make up the Japan task force, which will include a swiftwater rescue component.

The task force will be made up of Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters and paramedics, along with emergency room physicians, structural engineers, heavy equipment specialists, hazardous materials technicians, and communications and logistics specialists. They travel as a self-contained unit, including food and water.

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