California US&R teams participate in annual emergency response exercise

The California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) recently participated in the Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) exercise throughout the Los Angeles, Calif., area.

The annual multi-team mobilization exercise is a collaboration between local, state and federal agencies to test the effectiveness of California's emergency response system.

This year's exercise simulated a water-based response, a plane crash and an earthquake.

"California trains the best first responders in the world and we need as many highly skilled, multi-hazard response personnel as we can get," Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said. "We know that every day could be the day that they are called upon to respond to the next major disaster."

The exercise began with a press conference at the Los Angeles Fire Department US&R building in Sherman Oaks. Speakers included Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Fire Chief James Featherstone and Lucy Jones with the U.S. Geological Survey.

There are currently 28 US&R teams in the U.S., eight of which are part of the Cal OES Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid. The teams have responded to emergency situations throughout the country, including Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. California US&R teams also responded to the 2011 earthquake in Japan.