September 23, 1998 Panel Discussion

Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams:
An Increasingly Important Response Capability?


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Mark Russo
Fred Krimgold
Dewey Perks

Avagene Moore

Related Pages:
Virginia Task Force One Page


EIIP Virtual Forum Panel Discussion
Wednesday - September 23, 1998 - 12:00 Noon EDT

Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams:
An Increasingly Important Response Capability?

Featured Panelists:

Avagene Moore
EIIP Coordinator

Fred Krimgold
Center for Building Health and Safety
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Dewey Perks
Project Officer
Special Programs Section
National Association for Search and Rescue (NASAR)

The EIIP Virtual Forum Panel discussion featured experts on urban search and rescue to talk about "Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Teams: An Increasingly Important Response Capability?" Panelists were Fred Krimgold, Virginia Tech, and Dewey Perks, NASAR, and US&R Virginia Task Force 1. Mark Russo, FEMA National US&R Response System, was deployed to Hurricane Georges and could not join the panel; Avagene Moore overviewed the US&R Response System in Mr. Russo's absence.

The discussion covered the establishment of the National US&R Response System under the authority of FEMA in 1989 as a framework for structuring local emergency services personnel into integrated disaster response task forces. Currently, there are 27 FEMA US&R Task Forces spread throughout the continental US trained and equipped by FEMA to handle structural collapse.

Fred Krimgold discussed his research and involvement in urban search and rescue and his first-hand experience in the Philippines and domestic earthquakes. He also suggested that we need better technology for searching to expand our capacity for location and assessment of trapped victims.

Dewey Perks, NASAR and VA Task Force #1, overviewed NASAR and their involvement in the development of US&R Task Forces. Dewey also discussed the training involved in a US&R Task Force and retention/motivation factors involved.

As stated by the panelists, US&R began with a very narrow mission: saving victims in collapsed structures. Since that beginning it has been appropriate to expand the mission to include work related to other disaster impacts which would benefit from the skills of the teams. As world tensions and the numbers of disasters increase, we will continue to need US&R teams.


Program Manager
FEMA National Urban Search and Rescue Response System

Mark Russo is Program Manager for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Urban Search and Rescue Response System, a position he has held since October 1994. The National Urban Search and Rescue Response System consists of approximately 5,000 individuals organized to provide immediate lifesaving resources to victims of structural collapse throughout the United States.

Mr. Russo is a graduate of the University of Rochester, New York, where he earned a Bachelors degree in Geomechanical Engineering and a Masters degree in Public Policy Analysis. He entered the Federal government in 1987, joining FEMA's Comptroller's Office as a Presidential Management Intern. In the Comptroller's Office, he was responsible for developing the financial management annex to the Catastrophic Earthquake Plan, which later became the Federal Response Plan. He later worked in FEMA's Radiological Preparedness Program, where he was part of the team that developed a new evaluation methodology for biennial preparedness exercises at commercial nuclear power plants. He was awarded a Meritorious Service Award by the Director of FEMA for his work in this area. In 1989, he served a rotational assignment as Special Assistant to the Director of FEMA. Later that year he became a founding staff member of the Office of Inspector General's Office of Inspections. In this position, he was the lead inspector for an evaluation of FEMA's Public Assistance Program following the Loma Prieta earthquake, a project which earned him a Special Achievement Award. Prior to joining the Urban Search and Rescue Program, he worked in FEMA's Mitigation Directorate, where he was the Project Officer for a multi-million dollar interagency agreement for post-earthquake investigations following the Northridge earthquake.

Mr. Russo has been actively involved in the volunteer fire service since 1979. He joined the Prince George's County Fire Department (PGFD) in 1989. He is currently Deputy Chief of the College Park Volunteer Fire Department (PGFD Station 12). In 1998, he was elected Secretary of the Chiefs' Council in Prince Georges County, Maryland. He is a nationally certified Fire Officer II and Firefighter III. He is also certified as an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic, HAZMAT Technician, and Rescue Technician. He lives in College Park, Maryland with his wife Mary Ellen, a Critical Care Registered Nurse, and their 2 1/2 year old son Anthony.

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Director, Center for Building Health and Safety
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Frederick Krimgold has extensive experience in development, research, and education, domestically and internationally. He has directed major construction research programs and has directed the development of a leading university-based building research program. He has worked extensively abroad as a consultant with a range of international organizations.

In 1990, Dr. Krimgold participated in the evaluation team to draft recommendations for AID assistance to post-earthquake recovery in Armenia. He has lectured on post-disaster reconstruction in Moscow and Tbilisi. He is the director of an Architectural Educational Exchange Program between Virginia Tech and the Construction Ministry of Armenia.

Dr. Krimgold has served as Working Commission Coordinator for W89 "Building Research and Education" for the International Congress for Building, Research, Studies and Documentation.

As Program Director for the Earthquake Hazard Mitigation Program of the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation, Dr. Krimgold initiated collaborative building research programs in Italy, India, Japan, and the People's Republic of China.

He has served as a consultant to the Office of the United Nation Disaster Relief Coordinator, Habitat, The Swedish International Development Authority and USAID.

From 1983 to 1994, Dr. Krimgold served as Associate Dean for Research and Public Service in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. In that capacity, he managed the development of the largest University-based architectural research program in the United States.

In 1991 Dr. Krimgold was appointed to the FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY Advisory Board (FAB).

In 1985, he was appointed to the Building Research Board of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. The Building Research Board provides technical assistance to the US Government on building technology, private sector competitiveness, and building design. In 1985-1986, Dr. Krimgold initiated and participated in a study of global competition in the construction industry.

From 1986-1988, Dr. Krimgold served on the Academic Advisory Council of the Construction Industry Institute, an organization of the 60 largest firms of the U.S. construction industry.

From 1983-1985, he served as President of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium an Organization of the 40 US schools of Architectural research centers.

From 1977 to 1983, Dr. Krimgold was Program Director with the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation. There he directed Architectural and Planning research and established the program for Building and Construction Engineering Research.

From 1975 to 1977, he was a Research Associate in the Department of Civil Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He worked on cost/benefit analysis of building safety specifically "Seismic Design Decision Analysis".

From 1974-1975, Dr. Krimgold worked as Research Team Leader for the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA) in Ethiopia on post-famine relocation and reconstruction.

The Royal Institute of Technology
Doctor of Technology, Architecture and Planning 1974

Yale University
B.A. Architecture 1968

AREAS OF WORK EXPERIENCE: Sweden, United Kingdom, Italy, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, India, Thailand, The People's Republic of China, Japan, Mexico, Jamaica, Brazil, Colombia.

LANGUAGES: English, Swedish, French

PERSONAL: Born in 1946, U.S. Citizen

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National Association of Search & Rescue (NASAR)

Dewey Perks is a 3-year member of the Special Programs Section of the National Association
for Search and Rescue. In that role, he serves as the Project Officer for assigned projects including meeting facilitation, course logistics actions, and conference track development. He is also a 27-year veteran of the Fairfax County, Virginia Fire and Rescue Department and serves as a Task Force Leader for its urban search and rescue team, Virginia Task Force 1.

Through his mixed careers, Dewey has been an ALS provider for 20+ years and is currently assigned as the Station Commander of Fairfax County Station 28. He has been deployed as a task force member to Hurricanes Emily and Fran, the Northridge earthquake, Oklahoma City, the Atlanta Olympics, and Nairobi, Kenya. He has also deployed as a FEMA Incident Support Team member to Hurricanes Luis and Mailyn, as well as the Atlanta Olympics.

Dewey has been involved in several FEMA Working Groups, including Medical, Command and General Staff, Training, and Logistics. He has served as a lead instructor for every FEMA Medical Team course. He is also a FEMA Phase II Evaluator and a member of the FEMA Technical Review Group.

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Avagene Moore, CEM

Avagene Moore is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) who served as the Director of Emergency Management for 16 years in Lawrence County, Tennessee. Avagene worked four years (1991-1995) as an Emergency Management Project Manager for the Emergency Management Laboratory, Oak Ridge Associated Universities; her responsibilities included the coordination of the Occupational Safety Special Interest Group (OS SIG) for TRADE. She currently runs her own company, Avagene Moore/Professional Management (AM/PM), and serves as Vice President of TEAM Simulations, Inc., of Tallahassee, Florida. As part of her work, Avagene coordinates the Emergency Information Infrastructure Partnership (EIIP) for the National Coordinating Council on Emergency Management (NCCEM).

Avagene is a 22-year member of NCCEM. She is a Past President of both NCCEM and the American Society of Professional Emergency Planners (ASPEP) and established her name and credibility with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), other Federal agencies and national organizations through speaking engagements, published articles and papers, and testimony before various congressional committees on behalf of NCCEM and the emergency management profession.

Summary of Background/Experience:

Avagene Moore / Professional Management (AM/PM), 10/95 - present
Current Responsibilities as Personal Services Contractor:

  • Write Video Scripts, Training Manuals and Guidance Documents
  • Manage Emergency Information Infrastructure Partners (EIIP) - NCCEM/FEMA
  • Manage and Develop Projects for TEAM Simulations, Inc.
  • Work projects with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)

Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 6/91-9/95
Emergency Management Project Manager for the Emergency Management Laboratory; Group Coordinator and Project Manager for Training Resources and Date Exchange (TRADE)

ERP&M, Inc., Princeton, New Jersey 1/91-6/91
Personal Services Contractor:

City of Lawrenceburg, Lawrence County, Tennessee 1975-1990
City/County Emergency Management Director; Chaired Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and 911 Emergency District Board

Professional Affiliations:

National Coordinating Council on Emergency Management (NCCEM)
American Society of Professional Emergency Planners (ASPEP)
National Association of Female Executives (NAFE)
American Management Association (AMA)
Toastmasters International (TI)
Emergency Management Association of Tennessee (EMAT)

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