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Urban search and rescue (US&R) involves the location, rescue (extrication), and initial medical stabilization of individuals. Structural collapse is most often the cause for people being trapped, but individuals may also be trapped in transportation accidents, mines, and collapsed trenches.

Urban search and rescue is considered a “multi-hazard” discipline, as it may be needed for a variety of emergencies or disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, typhoons, storms, tornadoes, floods, dam failures, technological accidents, terrorist activities, and hazardous materials releases. The events may be slow in developing, as in the case of hurricanes, or sudden, as in the case of earthquakes.

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