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Fairfax workers in Haiti rescue man from rubble; feds footing bill

Fairfax County rescue workers in Haiti using listening devices, cameras, saws and jackhammers pulled a man from the rubble early Thursday, said Dan Schmidt, spokesman for the county's fire and rescue department.

Members of the 72-person team, which landed at Port-au-Prince Airport on Wednesday, located and pulled a United Nations security officer from a "massive rubble pile," county officials said in a statement.

Schmidt said the man, who was Estonian, "was able to walk out on his own."

"That's a real morale booster for the members of the team," Schmidt said. "That's what the mission is: The mission is to save lives. And that's exactly what they were able to do."

The federal government -- specifically, the United States Agency for International Development -- is footing the Fairfax team's bill, Schmidt said.

Jeremy Lasich, spokesman for the county, said that Fairfax's contribution might not have been possible without the federal funding.

"In tight budget times, Fairfax County most likely would not be sending 70 people over to Haiti," he said. "We'd be more focused on Fairfax County government services."

Schmidt said 42 more workers from Virginia Task Force 1, Fairfax County's Urban Search and Rescue Team, are getting ready to join the 72 workers already there at the request of federal officials.

The 72-person team is made up mostly of Fairfax firefighters, but also includes non-county government civilians, such as doctors, dog handlers and structural engineers, Schmidt said.

Prince George's and Montgomery County officials said they also have rescue workers on standby if federal officials request their services.

"They're ready, and they can be mobilized and deployed within three hours from the moment they get the call," said Montgomery spokeswoman Donna Bigler.

-- Jonathan Mummolo

By Washington Post Editors  |  January 14, 2010; 12:44 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax County  
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