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Lance Cpl. Neil Unzuete, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, begins the construction of a support unit that would help in earthquakes, hurricanes or other natural disasters, Oct. 7, 2011. Unzuete traveled with 33 other Marines and sailors to the San Francisco Fire Departments’ training facilities on Treasure Island, San Francisco. The training consisted of a condensed version of the fire department’s urban search and rescue class.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

Marines ready to answer call for next natural disaster

11 Oct 2011 | Lance Cpl. Timothy Lenzo 1st Marine Division

Marines serving with Combat Logistics Regiment 17 took on an unorthodox exercise in San Francisco, Oct. 7, during Fleet Week.

The Marines bussed to the city’s Treasure Island and trained with local first responders in urban search and rescue as part of a continued focus on humanitarian disaster relief, which also provided a chance for the Marines to build working relationships with the emergency services of San Francisco.

Marines and sailors were paired with members of the San Francisco Fire Department for the four-hour demonstration and practical application.

“At any point and time, Marines may be called upon to provide some kind of disaster relief or humanitarian effort,” said Capt. Alexis Sanchez, the Headquarters and Service Company executive officer with CLR-17.

In case of a major earthquake or hurricane, many of the local emergency offices may not be able to help. The Marines train to be ready if called upon to help the relief efforts of a natural disaster.

“Today’s objective was to train the Marines and sailors in case there is ever an earthquake or disaster in San Francisco,” said Assistant Deputy Chief Mark Kearney, director of Homeland Security Division, San Francisco Fire Department.

Sanchez said the demonstration was very informative to many of the Marines and a vital tool for their tool kit.

“Our humanitarian support requires us to be knowledgeable in these little things,” said Sgt. Ryan Cheramie, a motor technician with CLR-17. “The fire department gave us some insights, so if there is a disaster and someone’s life needs to be saved, we actually have those techniques to support that.”

The San Francisco Fire Department took the lead in training the Marines.

“It is essential that Marines have a good, solid base of understanding of some of the techniques we’ve learned today,” said Sanchez.

“If there was ever a disaster relief in the United States, if we have a working relationship with [local first responders], we’d know exactly what they would need and how they operate,” said Sanchez.

With the tsunamis in eastern Asia and Hurricane Katrina still fresh in many people’s minds, combined with relief efforts happening all over the world, the Marines said the training was a valuable opportunity.

“I think the training was phenomenal,” said Sanchez. “Even though it was a crash course, and we just got a little segment of what they do, we walked away knowing these guys were giving all their effort to ensure that we learn what they were providing.”

1st Marine Division