Public Info

Union County to Participate in Search and Rescue Preparedness Exercise

Four-day exercise evaluates first responders’ ability to coordinate resources in the case of a major homeland security threat


Union County –Union County is set to join 5 other Northern New Jersey Counties in a Homeland Security exercise designed to test the Metro USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) Strike Team’s ability to respond to terrorist attacks, industrial accidents, and/or natural disasters.

The Metro USAR Strike Team is a conglomerate of ten fire departments from seven northern New Jersey Counties; Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic and Union Counties. Members also include New Jersey Transit and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police officers along with fire departments from New Jersey’s two largest metro-area cities; Newark and Jersey City.

The Metro USAR Strike Team is federally funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and is specifically designed to help prepare the country’s urban areas for large-scale rescues in the densely populated northeast portion of New Jersey.

The area incorporates many core elements of New Jersey’s transportation infrastructure, including the George Washington Bridge, the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the Ports of Elizabeth and Newark, the New Jersey Turnpike/Interstate 95 and Garden State Parkway, Amtrak’s northeast rail corridor, Newark Penn Station and Newark Liberty International Airport.

“It is widely known that terrorism experts have dubbed the stretch from Newark Airport to Port Elizabeth as the most dangerous two miles in America,” Freeholder Chairman Deborah P. Scanlon stated. “The County of Union is steadfast in ensuring our police officers, firefighters and emergency responders have not only the equipment, but the training necessary to keep our residents safe from such heinous acts of violence.”

Members of the ten participating fire departments and the participating police officers all train together and are provided with equipment that is uniform and interchangeable. This allows all agencies to share resources under a defined mutual aid agreement and to provide assistance to each other in the event of a large incident.

Last year’s exercise, hosted by the Newark Fire Department at their training area, involved a simulated bomb threat in a mock “metropolitan tunnel” during rush hour; damaging the tunnel, leaving civilians trapped in cars and trucks, requiring rescue. The exercise assessed the METRO Strike Team’s ability to clear debris and drill through various obstructions to perform search and rescue operations.

This year’s exercise will take place Monday, April 25, 2011 through Sunday, April 28, 2011 at the Newark Firefighter’s Orange Street Training Facility, located at 191 Orange Street, Newark, NJ. Media inquiries, please contact B/C Mauriello at MaurielloA@ci.Newark.NJ.US.