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L.A. County rescuers waiting for orders to respond to Haiti earthquake

January 12, 2010 | 11:20 pm
Rescuers from Los Angeles County were awaiting orders tonight to respond to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The heavy rescue task force from the Los Angeles County Fire Department was preparing its equipment at a staging area in Pacoima, officials said.

"If and when they get the word, they'll go," said Inspector Steve Zermeno of the county Fire Department. "I know they're needed down there."

The 72 members are part of a self-contained squad that responds with 55,000 pounds of pre-packaged medical supplies and specialized search-and-rescue equipment.

The team includes paramedics, emergency room physicians, structural engineers, search dogs and firefighters trained in searching collapsed structures and pulling victims from the rubble, fire officials said.

The unit was ordered into action after receiving a request earlier in the day from the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to fire officials.

The 7.0-magnitude quake struck the Caribbean island nation about 4:45 p.m., collapsing buildings and causing widespread chaos.
--Robert J. Lopez