Urban Search and Rescue Emergencies Glossary

The field of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) is a specialized area within emergency response dedicated to locating, extricating, and providing initial medical stabilization to individuals trapped in confined spaces due to natural disasters, structural collapse, or other catastrophes. Effective communication and understanding of specific terms are vital in these high-pressure situations. This article provides a glossary of key terms used in USAR operations.

Glossary of Terms

  1. USAR (Urban Search and Rescue): A specialized discipline involving the location, rescue (extrication), and initial medical stabilization of victims trapped in confined spaces.
  2. Collapse Structure Types:
    • Type 1: Heavy construction, such as reinforced concrete and steel structures.
    • Type 2: Medium construction, including brick and heavy wood.
    • Type 3: Lightweight construction, such as wood-frame structures.
  3. Search Markings:
    • Single Slash (): Indicates search is currently in progress.
    • X Code: A symbol marked after a search is completed, indicating time and date of search, hazards present, and number of victims found.
  4. Victim Location Methods:
    • Physical Search: Manual search through debris.
    • Canine Search: Using search and rescue dogs.
    • Technical Search: Using electronic equipment like listening devices and cameras.
  5. Extrication Equipment:
    • Jaws of Life: Hydraulic rescue tools used to cut and spread metal.
    • Cutting Saws: Power saws used for cutting through debris.
    • Air Lifting Bags: Used to lift heavy objects.
  6. Shoring: The process of supporting a building or structure with shores (props) when in danger of collapse or during repairs.
  7. Cribbing: Wooden blocks or wedges used alongside hydraulic tools to stabilize structures and debris during rescue.
  8. Hazardous Materials (HazMat): Dangerous substances that may be encountered during USAR operations, including chemicals, biohazards, or radioactive materials.
  9. Incident Command System (ICS): A standardized approach to the command, control, and coordination of emergency response.
  10. Rapid Intervention Team (RIT): A team of firefighters ready to provide rescue for other emergency workers.
  11. Confined Space Rescue: Specialized rescue operation in spaces that are not designed for continuous occupancy, which may have limited entry or exit points.
  12. Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT): A group of professional medical personnel organized to provide rapid-response medical care during a disaster.
  13. Triage: The process of determining the priority of patients’ treatments based on the severity of their condition.

Conclusion In USAR operations,

clear communication and understanding of these terms can significantly impact the efficiency and success of rescue missions. As urban environments become increasingly complex, the role of USAR teams and the need for precise terminology becomes ever more critical.