East Penn Technical Search and Rescue, which serves Carbon County, has been issued a certificate of recognition from the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Office of the State Fire Commissioner for the successful completion of a Voluntary Rescue Service Recognition (VRSR) Program for the Swiftwater/Flood Evacuation Team. The certificate was issued Dec. 8, and will be effective from the Jan. 1, 2012 until Jan. 1, 2015.

The VRSR program was prepared by the Office of the State Fire Commissioner, the Bureau of EMS from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and the Rescue Task Force of the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council (PEHSC).

The first phase of the program was the implementation of the vehicle rescue section. The purpose of that program was to recognize those emergency services that can safely and efficiently perform rescue operations on the highways of Pennsylvania.

The second phase of the VRSR is the Swiftwater/Flood Management component. This component is designed to establish standards for water rescue and flood evacuation services.

It is the intent of the program to recognize emergency service organizations in swiftwater rescue. This document not only takes into account the equipment and rescue hardware requirements of swiftwater rescue, but includes minimum manpower, training and education requirements.

It is the responsibility of recognized agencies responding to a request for swiftwater/flood evacuation to provide qualified personnel and equipment that meet or exceed the recommended level of skills and capabilities stipulated by the VRSR program.

As a Type 3a Swiftwater/Flood Evacuation Team, East Penn Technical Search and Rescue is capable of performing moderately complex rescues and possess a minimum of four swiftwater rescue technicians. All members of the team are cross-trained in the following areas: water rescue for the first responder and emergency response, boat operations and rescue, Advanced Line System rescue, ice rescue and emergency response, hazardous materials operations, decontamination, helicopter safety, managing search operations and National Incident Management System courses.

For questions regarding East Penn Technical Search and Rescue, contact Roger Tobias, chief of operations, at (570) 894-2929, email eastpenn@entermail.net, or visit the group's website at www.eastpennsar.com.