Last June, following the deadly collapse of a 12-story apartment building in Surfside, Florida, a team of Israeli disaster relief specialists flew over to help.
Earlier this month, 15 firefighters from Florida, Ohio and Virginia who’d worked with the Israelis at the scene came to Israel for five days.
They participated in a rescue training drill with the IDF Home Front Command, conducted a joint review of the Surfside rescue operation, visited an Iron Dome antimissile defense installation and met with officials in the Gaza-border city of Sderot.
The Israeli and American colleagues hope to craft a “rescue doctrine” to be available for disaster specialists around the world. The Home Front Command has requested another meeting of the two sides next year to further this goal.
Col. (Res.) Golan Vach, commander of the National Rescue Unit in the Home Front Command, told The Times of Israel that he invited the American responders to Israel so that the two sides could learn from one another.
Vach noted that the Americans brought to the rescue operation advanced equipment, logistical and organizational excellence and a comprehensive manual of instructions.
The Israelis contributed their well-honed ability to gather critical intelligence at the scene to map out where to search for victims. This methodology significantly shortens the time needed to find trapped individuals, Vach said.
Brandon Webb, program manager for Florida Task Force One and battalion chief for Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue, called his Israeli counterparts “Great people, highly trained and dedicated to what they do. I haven’t met any of them that I wouldn’t consider a friend.”