To become a member of Georgia's Urban Search and Rescue Team known as GSAR, several Marietta firefighters attended five weeks of intense and skill-specific technical rescue training that included Ropes, Confined Space, Trench, and Structural Collapse. Once a firefighter completes the program, he or she qualifies to serve as a Rescue Technician for the GSAR Team. When the Georgia Mutual Aid Group or Federal Emergency Management Agency calls for the activation of GSAR, the Marietta Fire Department has agreed to release these personnel for activation.
Four Marietta Firefighters volunteered to travel to Louisiana to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina caused widespread destruction. During the deployment, Mike Vickers, Joe Pacheco, Merv McDonald, and Blaine Whealy worked side by side with National Guard members and numerous law enforcement agencies as they dug their way through damaged buildings to search for possible victims. In all, FEMA sent 1,400 medical personnel and 1,800 Urban Search and Rescue personnel to the devastated areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The teams include specialists in searching collapsed buildings, giving medical attention to injured people and animals, and providing mortuary services (CNN.com/2005/WEATHER). Browse through training image of the Urban Search and Rescue Team.