Search and Rescue teams from the Los Angeles County Fire Department returned home Friday after helping relief efforts in Mexico following the deadly earthquake there and in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria struck and battered the island.
It was the first time the department had “two teams working in two different parts of the world,” the agency said in a news release.
One search and rescue team was deployed to Mexico on September 20 after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake devastated the central region of the country, leaving at least 355 people dead so far, according to the Associated Press.
That team — equipped with 62,000 pounds of specialized tools and medical equipment — brought 67 emergency responders and five canines to search for survivors of the quake, the department said.
It also assisted in the “demobilization process” at the request of Mexico’s government, the department said, transferring equipment such as saws and generators to the Mexican Red Cross.
Just three days later, another search and rescue team from L.A. County Fire was sent to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit. That natural disaster has left millions without electricity, a short supply of water and a death toll many say is expected to rise.
The team deployed to Puerto Rico had 27 members and was assigned as a “water rescue” team that searched rural areas, did “welfare checks on unaccounted for citizens” and identified infrastructure damage, the department said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency requested the deployment to Puerto Rico and it was approved by the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Meanwhile, the team sent to Mexico was “activated” by the United States Agency for International Development, the department said.
“LACoFD is very proud to be represented on the world stage by these brave, skillful and devoted public servants,” the department said.