Thirty years ago today, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake struck Armenia in what was then the Soviet Union. Shortly thereafter, a request was received for the assistance of our Urban Search and Rescue team along with the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Department team. This was the first international deployment of our Urban Search and Rescue team under an agreement with the United States Agency for International Development and the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA).
On December 11, 1988, ten members of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department made history as the first Americans since World War II to travel to the Soviet Union to render assistance. For one week these team members worked under extreme conditions to try to save lives and ease the suffering of the Armenian people devastated by the earthquake.
The team safely returned home late on December 17, 1988. Take a moment to look at some photos below. As well, a copy of a special edition of the department newsletter at the time called Line Copy. In it are reflections of those who were deployed on this historic mission.
Please also take a moment to read a great article by USAID: Armenia Earthquake Anniversary