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    Northern Virginia search and rescue members return from Nepal

    Captain William Moreland hugs his children, Sarah and Aiden, Saturday morning after returning home from Nepal.Gregg MacDonald/Fairfax County Times
    Local members of the Fairfax County International Urban Search & Rescue Team task force returned home from Nepal early morning May 16 and were met by friends, family, co-workers and well-wishers at their headquarters on Flint Lee Road in Chantilly.

    The team arrived in Nepal April 27 following a massive 7.8 earthquake there April 25 and were still there when two subsequent earthquakes occurred May 12.

    According to the Nepalese government, the two quakes killed more than 8,500 people and injured countless others.

    While in Nepal, the task force rendered physical and medical aid and assisted in two live rescues, initially saving a 15-year-old boy trapped during the first earthquake, and later a 41-year-old woman injured in a four-story building collapse during a subsequent earthquake. “This was our longest mission ever,” said Battalion Chief Chris Schaff. “Experiencing an earthquake while in country was also a new experience.”

    Back home, family members waited patiently for their loved ones to return.

    “It was a long three weeks, but the task force kept us all in touch and provided us with a conference call every night,” said Fairfax County Public Schools teacher Kate McLaughlin of Burke. McLaughlin’s husband, Tom, is a civilian structural engineer who is part of the rescue team.

    “For those family members who were on the conference calls every evening at 7:30, I was the voice on the box,” Deputy Chief Chuck Ryan told family members Saturday morning. “Thank you for letting us take your loved ones for three weeks. Without family support the team could not exist.”

    In total, there are approximately 200 trained and equipped members on the task force. When activated, the international team is comprised of 70 persons that consists of firefighters and paramedics from the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department (both career and volunteer) and highly trained civilians including physicians, canine handlers, structural engineers, communications experts and heavy rigging specialists.

    Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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