USAR Information

Search-and-rescue operations in an urban environment present a unique challenge. The days of using jacks to lift vehicles and chunks of concrete off an injured person are long gone. These days, USAR teams use airbag lifting systems to do the job. The flat Kevlar bags are inserted under the heavy object and inflated with an air pump.

The largest deluxe bag systems are capable of lifting as much as 70 tons 20 inches off the ground at full inflation. In addition to the lifters, shoring equipment is necessary to make sure the passageways the teams create are stable and safe to travel into.

Traditional heavy demolition and construction equipment is key to any USAR operation. Hydraulic tools, concrete saws, jackhammers, chainsaws and hand tools like pry bars, axes and bolt cutters are just a few implements used on site.

USAR teams use heavy-rigging gear like chains, cables, anchors and rope-hauling systems to remove larger pieces of collapsed building. By tying them to bulldozers and cranes, the large debris is moved slowly and safely. Laser range finders and wind detectors are on hand to judge distances and measure conditions on site. Heavy winds can delay a search because they can compromise the integrity of the structure and the safety of the search team.