Is Arizona prepared to handle a disaster?

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MESA, Ariz. – As images of the devastation in Japan continue to pour in, most people can’t help but wonder if we here in Arizona would be equipped to handle a disaster.

According to Brian Hickey of the Mesa Fire Department, the answer is yes.

Javier Soto talked to Hickey about the Rapid Response Team, an exclusive statewide response team designed specifically to manage disasters.

The team is funded by Homeland Security and was first introduced in 1999. It’s set up to mobilize and manage any disaster for the first 72 hours, after which the Federal Emergency Management Agency would take over.

The team’s mobile units are self contained and the crews are specially trained to handle mass casualties. Each unit can treat 100 patients.

“The first line of defense would be taking [those mobile units] to the scene,” Hickey explained.

The mobile units carry equipment, including all-terrain vehicles and heavy rescue tools, that will allow first responders to what they need to do in almost any circumstance.

“We have to keep everything on wheels. We have to go to the incident,” Hickey said. “It could happen anywhere in the state of Arizona so we have to be deployable and be able to work in any situation.”

While the team hopes they are never called upon, they say they are prepared and are learning from the current situation in Japan.