What are the biggest challenges you face?
Without a doubt safety. Although not formally trained in structural collapse I've searched many damaged and destroyed homes and had first hand encounters with why Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) is considered to be among the most dangerous things a person can do. I've gone into houses and discovered active gas leaks, had nails bury themselves in my boots, been exposed to asbestos, molds, vermin and of course the threat of further collapse. The number and types of dangers are legion. As a result I stress things like the proper protective gear that meets US&R standards, immunizations and shots like tetanus and equipment that can both do the job that needs to be done without creating more risk to my team. I also make sure my team doesn't take on missions it cannot do safely. For example we don't do confined space or water rescue. Our focus is destroyed neighborhoods. The other problem has been acceptance. While Yankee 1 has had some wonderful experiences working alongside professional rescuers. The dangerous nature of the work has left others dubious of what volunteers bring to the table. However as both Team Rubicon and Yankee 1 can attest to, some disasters are so big that volunteers are the only way to meet the need. Especially when we are talking about entire communities that have been devastated. Yankee 1 is trying to pioneer a new way where organized volunteer groups with an eye on safety and that know their limits can effectively augment traditional resources, primarily in residential areas when large disasters strike. Traditional rescuers have to concentrate on the more complex or more densely populated areas first. Volunteers offer a way to get into areas that would otherwise be left waiting. Besdies being able to get to these areas quickly and conduct an organized search, organized volunteer groups like Team Rubicon and Yankee 1 can provide critical services like emergency medical care, damage assessment, triage, relay information back to emergency managers, clear roads as well as many other tasks.