Training and leadership challenges during Wash. mudslide rescue

Mudslides make for extremely difficult rescue operations because there are very little void spaces where people could potentially survive

By Leischen Stelter
American Military University

Even for someone as highly trained and experienced as Jack Reall, who has been involved with Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) for 20 years, the catastrophic destruction of the March 22 landslide in Oso, Washington was incomprehensible.

“It’s being referred to as a ‘mudslide,’ which makes you think of soupy mud coming down the mountain, but in reality that land was moving at speeds of 100 miles an hour when it impacted other materials,” said Reall. “Mass being moved at that speed causes enormous destruction.”

Responders at the scene expanded on the devastating collapse pattern: “The mountain didn’t slide like an avalanche that starts at the top and slides down. It actually blew out at the bottom. And all of that energy, because of the weight of top on it, blew across the river and brought all that water and material in it,” said Lt. Richard Burke, a firefighter and incident spokesman in a recent news article.

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About the author

In Public Safety is an American Military University (AMU) sponsored blog that features analysis and commentary on issues relating to law enforcement, emergency management, fire services and national intelligence. This blog features in-depth discussions authored by leading experts with decades of experience in their field. To stay updated on blog posts and other news relevant to these sectors, please follow us on Facebook by “liking” AMU & APUS Public Safety Programs. You can also follow us on our sector-specific Twitter accounts: @AMUPoliceEd, @AMUFireEd, @AMUDisasterEd, @AMUIntelStudies.

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