A San Diego-based urban search and rescue squad is on call this month to be the first to respond to major disasters throughout the United States.

At the will of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security, California’s Task Force 8, a highly trained search and rescue team, could be called on to respond to federal emergencies ranging from terrorist attacks to massive hurricanes, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced today.

The crew, which is comprised of elite firefighters and other personnel from throughout the city, expects to respond this month to Hurricane Chris – a high-pressure storm that could strike Florida as early as this weekend.

If it deployed, the crew could round up its gear and be anywhere in the country in about four hours, said Bill Middleton, assistant fire chief.

SAM HODGSON

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