British Columbia

Nepal earthquake: B.C. search and rescue teams en route

Emergency responders from B.C. are on their way to Nepal to help after a powerful earthquake struck near Kathmandu on Saturday.

2 teams from B.C. are on their way to Nepal to join search and rescue efforts

Emergency responders from B.C. are on their way to Nepal to help after a powerful earthquake struck near Kathmandu on Saturday.

The death toll for the 7.8 earthquake has already climbed to 3,700, and thousands more are injured and homeless, desperate for food, water and medical care.

One of the teams heading over to help with the search and rescue efforts is made up of seven firefighters from 19 Wing Comox trained in light urban search and rescue.

They joined Canada's specialized Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) at CFB Trenton on Sunday evening for a flight to Europe, Kuwait and then India, where they will wait until called into Nepal.

Sgt. Dave Hillier says once there, they will do reconnaissance, damage assessments and begin looking for people who are still trapped in the rubble.

"Some of the equipment we have on board the plane today allows us to do technical search. We can locate victims or people who are trapped in rubble piles, sometimes they are there for days, but we can use sonar, acoustic equipment, we can pick even the minute sounds up in a rubble pile to locate victims," said Hillier.

Search dogs flying over

Another volunteer team of 18 B.C. firefighters, doctors and nurses left Vancouver airport early Monday morning on a flight to Hong Kong and hopes to be in Kathmandu by Tuesday morning.

Retired Burnaby Fire Captain Marc Pullen said his dog Hunter is one of three that are part of the Canadian Medical Assistance Team.

"We have a golden retriever, a chocolate lab and Hunter is the Australian kelpie, so we have an assortment, which is a good thing," said Pullen.

Those three highly-trained dogs will be searching for survivors still trapped in the rubble of the city, as well as the bodies of victims.

Pullen said he will be making use of his experience responding to disasters like this before.

"I had been exposed to the earthquake in Haiti. I went in 2010, and then also Hurricane Katrina with Vancouver's Urban Search and Rescue."

He says the UN will assign them to where they're needed most on the ground. The team will also be conducting an assessment to determine if a field hospital and more medical volunteers should be sent to the region.


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