Chapter 2 – Search and Rescue Operations

Search and rescue (SAR) operations, specifically urban search and rescue (US&R) operations, are anticipated to be critical to lifesaving operations following a nuclear detonation. Initially, US&R operations will be most efficiently and effectively engaged in non-radiologically contaminated areas of the MD and LD Zones by utilizing visual cues and detected radiation. During the early phases of the response, US&R teams should utilize visual cues and detected radiation levels to prioritize operations in the MD Zone. It is not recommended that US&R be conducted in the SD Zone until radiation levels have dropped and the MD zone response is sufficiently advanced. It is recommended that US&R operations not be performed in the DF zone, including where it overlaps the MD and LD Zones, until dose rates have dropped substantially after normally six hours or more.

US&R operations within a contaminated area must be conducted by responders trained in radiation protection in accordance with hazardous materials standard operating procedures. US&R operations require a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency response due to the contaminated environment and should always include a radiation assessment capability. US&R operations will be complicated by the presence of other non-radiological hazards due to the disruption of utilities and local industrial installations located within the affected areas. Fire and deep rubble will hamper US&R efforts.

The benefit/risk analysis performed for deployment of US&R forces should as account for high radiation levels, wide spread fires, deep rubble, structural instability, other hazards that threaten responders, and will impact responders’ ability to sustain operations throughout the response.

Local jurisdictions should initiate contact with and maintain an awareness of local US&R teams, task forces, and hazardous materials teams in their region. Mission-capable resources within the State can usually be requested through local mutual aid agreements. Other resources outside the State can be requested through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) via the respective State emergency management agency. Additionally, FEMA, DOD, and the National Guard Bureau maintain resources that could be employed to augment and support the US&R mission in a post-nuclear explosion environment. Request for these resources should be made through the respective State emergency management agency.

Urban search and rescue operations will be most efficiently and effectively engaged in non-radiologically contaminated areas of the MD zones