NSW prepares to deploy search and rescue personnel to Japan

Published: 12th March 2011

NSW State Emergency Operations Controller and NSW Police Force Deputy Commissioner, Dave Owens, has announced that NSW had been requested by the Australian Government to send a 76-person specialist urban search-and-rescue team to Japan following yesterday's devastating earthquake.

Deputy Commissioner Owens said the team would be mainly comprised of firefighter rescue specialists, supported by two structural engineers, eight paramedics, two doctors, and a police specialist.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) is the lead agency for urban search and rescue and will manage the deployment. The multi-agency team is expected to leave for Japan from Richmond RAAF Base later today.

"There are fears that the death toll could be very high, with hundreds or even thousands of people killed as a result of the earthquake and tsunami," Deputy Commissioner Owens said. "We are shocked and saddened by this disaster, and eager to do anything we can to help the victims."

FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said NSW's search-and-rescue personnel had been busy in recent months, providing vital assistance in the aftermath of both the Christchurch earthquake and the Queensland floods.

"We are well prepared and equipped to assist in this type of disaster, and we have established a very strong working relationship with the Japanese urban search-and-rescue teams over the years through training and during other disasters," Commissioner Mullins said.

"Some of the rescuers we are sending are veterans of earthquakes in Taiwan, Turkey, Indonesia, and the Indian Ocean tsunami, and of course the Thredbo landslide."

Acting Chief Executive Mike Willis said: "The Ambulance well developed and practised deployment strategies have been activated and we will provide any assistance required following this tragic natural disaster."

Both the NSW Government and Opposition have been briefed about the deployment and are fully supportive of the state's response.

Learn more about the response here