On Sunday, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck the city of Van in Turkey; immediate death tolls are expected to rise above 1,000 as rescue workers continue to dig through the rubble. Initial reports are that local hospitals have been overwhelmed with casualties, and small rural communities in the surrounding hills lack easy access and communication. Over the course of the next week, weather is expected to worsen, with temperatures dipping to near freezing and rain or snow expected beginning Wednesday; this will hamper an already difficult rescue effort.
Yesterday, Team Rubicon deployed an initial scout team to Van consisting of two elite Air Force Special Operations Pararescuemen (PJs), Joshua Webster and Nathan Schmidt, and Team Rubicon's Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Sutter. Both Webster and Schmidt have significant training in Search and Rescue operations, including Confined Space/Structural Collapse.
The team will hit the ground running in Van, immediately sending back a report to HQ and advising on whether full follow-on teams are necessary. Once established, the team will be able to assist and advise local authorities in survivor recovery efforts.
If necessary, Team Rubicon is on standby to send larger medical and rescue teams. Follow the team's progress as it happens on the TR blog.
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