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L.A. County fire rescue team prepares to deploy to Haiti earthquake [Update]

January 12, 2010 |  5:37 pm

A specialized rescue unit from the Los Angeles County Fire Department is preparing for deployment to Haiti following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the Caribbean island nation earlier today, officials said.

The 72-member heavy rescue task force received a request for help from the U.S. Agency for International Development and is gathering at a staging area in Pomona, county fire officials said.

The team includes paramedics, search dogs, communication specialists and rescuers who are trained in combing through collapsed structures to find victims.

The rescuers rely on sophisticated detection devices and equipment capable of shoring weakened structures and moving heavy chunks of rubble, officials said.

Relief officials said they were preparing for substantial damage and casualties after Haiti was rocked by the quake, the largest to ever strike the region.

-- Robert J. Lopez

[Update: The Los Angeles County rescue unit will gather at a staging area in Pacoima, not Pomona.]