​FEMA / USAR Overview

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FEMA Mission

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

FEMA has more than 3,700 full time employees. They work at FEMA headquarters in Washington D.C., at regional and area offices across the country, the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, and the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. FEMA also has nearly 4,000 standby disaster assistance employees who are available for deployment after disasters. Often FEMA works in partnership with other organizations that are part of the nation's emergency management system. These partners include state and local emergency management agencies, 27 federal agencies and the American Red Cross.


The National Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) Response System is a framework for organizing federal, state and local partner emergency response teams as integrated federal search and rescue task forces. The 28 National US&R Task Forces, complete with the necessary tools, equipment, skills and techniques, can be deployed by FEMA to assist state and local governments in rescuing victims of structural collapse incidents or to assist in other search and rescue missions.

The 28 task forces are located throughout the continental United States. Any task force can be activated and deployed by FEMA to a disaster area to provide assistance in structural collapse rescue, or, they may be pre-positioned when a major disaster threatens a community. Each task force must have all its personnel and equipment at the embarkation point within six hours of activation so that it can be dispatched and en route to its destination in a matter of hours.

National US&R Task Forces

A FEMA Type I Task Force is made up of 70 multi-faceted, cross-trained personnel who serve in six major functional areas, including search, rescue, medical, hazardous materials, logistics and planning. These elements are supported by canines that are trained and able to conduct physical search and heavy rescue operations in damaged or collapsed reinforced concrete buildings. Each task force can be divided into two 35-member teams to provide 24-hour search and rescue operations. Self-sufficient for the initial 72 hours, the task forces are equipped with convoy vehicles to support over the road deployments and can be configured into Light Task Forces to support weather events such as hurricanes and tornadoes and other similar incidents.