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Washington National Guard Deploys Search Unit, Fatality Recovery Team

Office of the Governor
An aerial view of the massive landslide in Snohomish County.

The Washington National Guard has deployed two technical units to help at the scene of the massive landslide in Snohomish County.

One group is trained in search and extraction, the other is a fatality recovery team.

The Search and Extraction unit is trained to shore-up collapsed structures and trenches so that rescuers can safely reach victims. The 50 member Guard unit is organized into six specialty teams.

The separate Fatality Search and Recovery team is made up of 11 Guard members. They’re responsible for removing bodies and assisting the medical examiner to identify victims.

Karina Shagren, from Washington Military Department, says the National Guard members are there to support the Snohomish County-led emergency response.

“As much as we never want something like this to happen our folks are ready to go if they do," she says. "And so that’s why these soldiers and airmen were turned to to assist in this situation. This is what they are prepared to do.”

Shagren says more Guard members are available as needed. So far the Oregon and Idaho National Guard have not been called to assist.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."