A team of 30 people from the Vancouver fire department’s Urban Search and Rescue Team are on standby, poised to go to Haiti at a moment’s notice if the earthquake-ravaged country requests help.
“The odds of going are 50-50 — if I were a betting man,” said fire Chief John McKearney, adding that any request from Haiti would go to the federal government, which would then deploy teams as it sees fit.
Similar teams in Toronto and Manitoba are also on standby.
McKearney said the team could leave within 16 to 24 hours of the request, and would be gone from 10 days to three weeks.
“Thirty people who are very competent in what they do ... can actually save a lot of lives,” McKearney said, adding the team is self-sufficient and it wouldn’t draw upon local resources.
The team would focus on locating, extricating and providing medical care to people trapped in buildings.
Alice Lam, a spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross, B.C., said more than $1 million has been raised nationally.
“We’re always looking for Canadians to support, and they can do that through our website,” Lam said. “It’s preferable that people donate money.”