In August, members of the County of Los Angeles Fire Department’s (LACoFD) International Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team, USA-2, and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s International USAR team, USA-1, participated in the 2023 Asia Pacific Earthquake Response Exercise (APERE) in Brisbane, Australia.
LACoFD Battalion Chiefs Michael Goudchaux, Sara Rathbun, and Gregory Short as well as Fire Fighter Specialist Russell Pettit were joined by USA-1 members, Battalion Chief Jeffrey Lewis, Fire Captain Christopher Ouellette, and Fire Captain Michael Eddy.
The two teams participated in the APERE to evaluate and enhance preparedness as well as response strategies in the event of a catastrophic earthquake. These evaluations were conducted in accordance with local, state, and national disaster response plans.
The exercise provided an opportunity to assess Australia’s processes and its ability to collaborate effectively with international partners and agencies, during the first phase of emergency response. It was a comprehensive on-site exercise, bringing together key elements of national agencies and international humanitarian responders. The main focus was to practice and reinforce emergency preparedness and response coordination between national and international organizations. The goal is to enhance international support for countries facing disaster situations while ensuring a high-quality response in unforeseen and challenging conditions.
This collaborative effort highlights the commitment to provide effective assistance in times of crisis.
In addition to Chief Rathbun’s participation in the APERE exercise, she also devoted three days to attend working group meetings alongside USAR representatives from various countries as part of the International Search and rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) Guidelines Review Group.
The INSARAG Guidelines serve as vital directions for countries impacted by sudden-onset disasters. These guidelines help streamline the response efforts, ensuring that the USAR teams work efficiently and effectively in challenging circumstances.
This international coordination is essential for maximizing relief operations and ensuring that the affected country receives the necessary support promptly.