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UPDATED: Watch video as Fairfax County USAR team makes rescue from crumbled UN building in Haiti. Security guard was below three collapsed floors and assisted in his own extrication. Fairfax to send a second team.

Click here for slideshow of Fairfax County’s USAR team making rescue in Haiti

VA Fairfax USAR rescue has learned the United States Agency for International Development has activated a second urban search and rescue team from Fairfax County, Virginia. Virginia Task Force 1 is now gathering a 42-member team at the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department’s training academy. The first team of 72-members from Fairfax has been on the ground in Port au Prince and has made at least one rescue. This is apparently the first time two teams have been employed from Fairfax County for an international response.

A man walked out of the collapsed United Nations building in Port au Prince, Haiti today thanks to the firefighters from Northern Virginia. Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department’s Lt. Mike Davis told CNN word came in overnight of someone trapped alive in the building. A four-person recon team confirmed the victim and called for a 15-person rescue squad.

A camera then confirmed the victim’s location and Lt. Davis said the crew began de-layering almost three floors of concrete in an effort to free the man. The man’s escape was hampered by a chair that blocked his way out. Firefighters were able to pass him a Sawzall to cut up the chair. Rescuers say the man walked out of the wreckage on his own.

The rescued man is a United Nation’s security guard from Estonia.

Virginia Task Force 1 arrived in Haiti at 4:00 PM on Wednesday. They have set up a base of operations at the American Embassy compound.


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    I have a few issues here as President Obama is speaking to the Nation about the devastation in Haiti and what is being done as well as providing answers to some of my ?’s.
    1st issue I have and i realize fully that the USAR teams, Military and other help from across the world can’t come sooner nor can they get to everyone due to the massive devastation.
    I also realize there are probably target areas that are priority, but to me it looks like the entire area is a priority. However, by watching CNN and other stations, it seems the first priority is the UN and to rescue Americans first, rather than the people of Haiti. This is the perception I get from watching the news and would think could mislead a loved one here in the US who might look at these USAR workers as their hope of saving a family member, but instead they watch the news and see the initial focus on the UN.
    I know pictures and what the media is reporting on can only provide us with a fraction of the relief efforts going on and that aid is pouring in from all over the world to help everyone in Haiti, but is the priority of the USAR teams to rescue the Haitian residents first or rescue Americans trapped in the UN building.
    Secondnd issue I have and
    I think its amazing when anyone is pulled out of a collapsed building, but it seems the media (CNN) arrived before the
    USAR teams as they’ve been showing Haitians rescuing there own with no fanfare, then today you see a UN worker pulled out unscathed by the USAR team.It seems that after the rescue of this man, it now becomes a moment to stop, then get in front of the cameras as I witnessed many standing around to pause, as this man was being pulled out. In the meantime on another channel, I see a Haitian man using a shovel to dig out a loved one and without the same attention and fanfare the UN worker received.
    Since these teams logistically pack for a certain amount of time, because after 36-48 hours it becomes a recovery effort, but since time is of the essence is it necessary to get in front of the camera while at the same time Anderson Cooper is reporting on a 15 year old boy trapped.
    To me that’s time wasted that could be used rescuing a Haitian family or loved one.
    If you want to be a hero and stand in front of the camera while someone is trapped and could be near death, save it for when you board the plane to go back home.

  • Anonymous

    I 100% agree with you

  • Anonymous

    You’re a moron.

  • Anonymous

    I dont feel it is selfish to rescue your own people first

  • vcbvc

    I dont feel it is selfish to rescue your own people first then do what you can for others,

  • Anonymous

    Unless you are trained member of these USAR teams, you have no idea the magnitude of effort that it takes to remove just ONE person. You cannot just send one person in and rescue the person. The building must be shored and stabilized. This means that you will need a search team, and stabilization team, as well as other members to complete various assigned tasks. Of course the cameras are going to follow the USAR teams. They are going to begin with the highest priority buildings first and then move on from there.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like you’re saying one person’s life is more important than anothers. So just because this guy isn’t Haitian, his family doesn’t deserve to get him home??

  • http://none Anonymous

    Send more USAR teams. Dedicate the first in teams (VA and CA-TF2) to U.S and UN compound SAR.

    Dedicate additional teams to SAR of local Hatian residents.

  • Texas Gordo


    If my children were trapped I would want every resource in the world brought to save them, and it is horrible to think that there are humans dying because we can’t get to them. The grim reality of a warm and dehydrating climate coupled with the massive and overwhelming devastation does seem to indicate that there will be more recovery than rescue in the coming days.

    I realize that there will be those that like the President, and those that don’t. I hope that no one lets their political affiliations cloud their judgment of his words or actions in this situation.

    The presence of the media is to be expected in this 24 hour news cycle. To be quite frank, I chose to read several newspaper and journals. A news story written for television is very different than a story written for a newspaper or radio. We like shocking imagery, and we like stories with happy endings.

    I am sure that all of the SAR teams are overwhelmed, and I imagine that they must make a decision about where to start. My guess is that they’ve given preference to the UN Mission because it was the logistical headquarters for the previous efforts in Haiti. I don’t know, but I imagine the headquarters was located in an easier to access area. I believe there are several thousand international UN peace keepers and police officers already stationed there. These may be reasons that they started there.

    This was a not a nation with a terrific infrastructure to begin with. We forget how fortunate we are in this nation with the abundance of wealth and resources. Private citizens with earth moving equipment, generators, and extra food are normal here.

    It is horrible that anyone must triage. I will point out that until this week, most Americans didn’t have a thought about Haiti. It is 670 miles from Houston to El Paso, and 681 miles from Miami to Haiti. I don’t like that the 2nd oldest democracy and the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere are that close to our borders. Hopefully we won’t forget about the people of Haiti after next week.

    America is a great and powerful nation, and we serve as a bastion of freedom and democracy for the entire world. This serves as another brutal reminder of how fortunate we are in our lives, and how much we still have left to do.

  • Gregger

    Hookman and the anons,
    Here’s what I know (being a Haz Mat tech in Fairfax Co.)….
    The heavy team (72+ personnel) landed at the airport mid-afternoon yesterday. They were the first ORGANIZED search team in Haiti. Since they were first, one of their responsibilities is to ensure that all the others teams coming in can hit the ground running. LA’s team was to arrive very early this morning. The UN compound was about 2 miles from the airport. When they got word that people were trapped at the UN, they sent an advance team of 3 (I think) to confirm this. Once it was confirmed, a rescue team of 15 or so was sent to get to work. The security guard – FROM ESTONIA (nothern Europe), not a US citizen – was trapped under three floors of pancake collapse. When they were close, they had to give him a Sawzall to cut debris out of his way.
    So, based on that, I’d say the world televised rescue was just one bit of what the team is doing. For all we know, the rest of the team is spreading out from the airport, rescuing any and all persons – including Haitians – that they can get to.

  • Anonymous

    Amazing! Firefighters are loosing their jobs every day in this Country because of our collapsing economy and people still have the nerve to criticize their efforts to help Haiti as not being enough. How many foreign Countries help the United States when we have a disaster? Not many! Most of the Countries that pledged money during Katrina never delivered. If we dont start taking care of our own soon, we will become one of the third world Countries that we are always saving and then who will save us?

  • Anonymous

    It’s a bad week for Hookman, a Fairfax hater from way back. It’s pathetic that he would find the negative in something like this, but it’s not surprising.

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  • Sammy The Man

    Ok Hookman, you have windows filled with victims and fire on multiple floors. Where do you start working?.
    Nevermind I’m not asking YOU. You don’t know the first thing about diplomacy and being on an international rescue team. Keep finding fault with people that actually-do.

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  • Anonymous

    More worthless chatter from “HOOKMAN”. Hookman, do yourself and the rest of us all a favor and keep your mouth shut. Hasn’t it already caused you enough grief?

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  • Anonymous

    I liked the duck tape on the helmet…


    Despite what some have said, my response to this story wasn’t meant to demean or demoralize the work of the USAR team or their current mission in Haiti. The issues I brought out in my comments are what I’ve observed in the last 24 hours by viewing the different networks like CNN and the local news stations.
    When the news first reported the US State Department was sending 2 USAR teams to Haiti, this gave me the perception they were being sent to search for and rescue any possible people that could still be trapped beneath the crumbled structures. The networks didn’t report that the US State Department was sending these teams to search for people in the UN building or any Americans first. If this is what they reported (which they didn’t)my issue with the USAR teams priority would have been answered, therefore I wouldn’t have an issue.
    I realize these teams are overwhelmed and that they can’t save everyone, so to say were going save Americans first isn’t being selfish, if that’s what their mission was from the very beginning. However,that had absolutely nothing to do with my issue. My issue was with the USAR teams and what their orders are before they leace and their first priority once they arrive. It was the media that gave me the perception that these teams were there to rescue the people of Haiti that were trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed structures.
    So if your a Haitian American or know someone who is in Haiti, and while watching the news you hear the media say that the US State Department is sending 2 USAR teams to search for possible victims trapped beneath the ruins, you could easily retain some hope that maybe these people will help find one of their loved ones. That’s the only issue I had as far as what the media was saying about the INITIAL USAR teams being deployed versus what the actual priority was for the USAR team. From what I viewed,it seemed the media didn’t know what their first priority was, if they did they would have reported such.
    To adress the media issue and who they follow or what they show is totally up to them. Sure it makes sense for them to show the efforts of what the USAR team is doing and when they pull someone out, it shows the world something good has happened out of this devastating natural disaster where thousands are presumed dead. And I’m sure to the USAR members, it’s a great feeling to rescue someone, but to me you move on and keep searching. I find it hard to swallow that one of the workers who probably wasn’t the USAR PIO, (if they have one down there) has no problem and steps right up to the microphone after this UN worker was rescued. In the meantime someone is gasping for a few breaths and is near death. Your down there to do a job and not to put your face on the camera. Sorry to those that have gotten their feelings hurt by my comments, but I dont see fireman pulling people out of burning buildings, then come out with the victim, hand them off to EMS, then run over to the onscene reporter and give him a play by play on how it went down. In the meantime theres places in the structure that haven’t been searched. With that said, if a reporter comes up to you to ask what went down because he needs a story to boost the networks ratings, theres no law that requires a fireman to get in front of a camera and speak away. The media might overhype the work your doing, but that’s their job and your’s is to do what they sent you down there to do and that’s to find people who could still be alive, but are trapped beneath the collapsed buildings.

    Sammi Sweetheart….if I rolled up on a blaze and saw people hanging from a window, diplomacy is probably not going to be on my mind nor am I going to shout on the radio the need for a international search and rescue teams. Call me crazy, but I was just called a moron by commenter#3 and to be honest, that was the nicest thing anyone has said to me all year.
    Love HOOKMAN

  • Gordo the Texan


    We all want to see as many people saved as possible. Like citizens at a fire scene who don’t understand our methodology, I admit to being in the dark about the methodology of the USAR Teams, but I don’t doubt their intentions are to save lives.

    I was also left wondering why the initial response was only 2 state and 1 federal team, and maybe there are those on the site with more knowledge, and they’ll share it.

  • Anonymous

    Based on the civil unrest in Haiti right now – maybe the first rescue occurred at one of the only secure areas in the area – an area where the Task Force could operate effectively without having to worry about being shot.

    Don’t arm chair quarter back from thousands of miles a way! Support the rescuers, say good things, and hope/pray for our brother/sisters safe return.

  • Steve

    I can believe every word Hookman says and writes, as he is a idiot and a complete disgrace not only to the DCFD, but the entire firefighting community. I have read your stupid statements over the past year about all your crap you spew here as well as the Watchdesk. Your a disgrace to the job and from all the firemen I speak with, your name constantly comes up and the general statement is ” he is making us all look like him” You’ve been fired, now go away, fight your cause as you should, but do it in the privacy of yourself, no one cares anymore about you andy our issues. NO ONE!!!!

  • bwh1248

    Two things to keep in mind. First, the Federal government on contracts with a select group of search teams to be prepared to deploy overseas. Many states have teams that stay at a certain level of preparedness to respond to domestic incidents, but only a few are paid to stand-by to deploy internationally. The last I new for sure, that was only Fairfax and Miami-Dade, but obviously LA was added to that list at some point. So the federal government has essentially gone “all in” with what they are normally prepared to provide. Second, these teams are specially trained for heavy rescue (ie, large contract-type building collapse) and traumatic injuries. So to deploy them to help people that are not trapped in these types of structures would be a waste of the resource if there are people trapped in structures that only they can help. There are other, less or differently trained teams and responders that will be assigned to help those in other types of situations.


    Steve, I admire your passion in stalking me on thewatchdesk, but apparently you missed the YouTube videos that caught Dennis Rubin lying red handed about why I was terminated. All this while being questioned at a deposition hearing for one of several lawsuits both here and in Atlanta, that this so called great leader of the fire service has managed to accumilate.
    Speaking out against your employer was unheard of back in the day, but today employees are retaliated for doing this. Sure they can make ones life temporarily difficult, but it will be I that comes out on top. You might not like me and that’s your perogative, but I’m probably the opposite of you when it pertains to being a fireman. I don’t blend in well with todays sensitive fireman like yourself and refuse take it in the rear and move on.
    Once again I made no mention to discredit the work of the USAR teams as I too commend the great work they are doing under the circumstances. After it was reported that a prison collapsed and many prisoners fled, I can further understand that one of the USAR teams priorities is to operate in a safe enviroment.
    I’m sorry your feelings were hurt because I called out one individual that needed camera time, but that was his choice to do so. If he was the PIO than I take those comments back, but I’m pretty sure he wasn’t. Good fireman dodge the spotlight and don’t want the attention, but you seem to condone glorifying oneself so to me your a disgrace to the fire service.

  • WFDT

    It’s intellectual discourse like this that reminds me of the joke “Don’t tell my mother I’m a firefighter; she still thinks I’m a piano player in a whorehouse.” :D

    I’ve been to Haiti to train firefighters from the northern city of Cap Haitien in technical rescue work and we had to leave our training equipment behind or they’d have had nothing to work with. The country barely functions on a good day.

    The work has to start somewhere and it makes sense to clear the UN facilities first, as that is likely to be the only “government” this country will have for the forseeable future. I only hope that order can be kept and the place doesn’t dissolve into postapocalyptic chaos.

    Here’s hoping that we can desist from name-calling for a few days while our guys are there working hard with the dead strewn all around them in the streets.


    Very well said WFDT

  • Anonymous