Local rescuer: There’s still hope for quake survivors

Rescue workers remove debris as they search for victims of earthquake in Bhaktapur near Kathmandu, Nepal, Sunday, April 26, 2015.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD)– A local firefighter knows what U.S. rescue teams are facing in Nepal, after a deadly earthquake leveled parts of the country last weekend.

When he’s not instructing Grand Rapids firefighters, Fire Training Chief Lee Finlayson is honing his skills by helping victims of disaster.

After deployments to Japan, Peru, Argentine, Uruguay and Chile, Finlayson knows what the first step will be for U.S. rescue teams.

“Well, we start in the most populated areas; you hit the schools, you hit the churches…you hit the hospitals, you see what has collapsed,” he explained.

>>Photos: Earthquake strikes Nepal

Finlayson said volunteers will likely have to rely on their own strength to carefully remove the mountains of unstable debris and reach victims.

“Getting heavy equipment into Nepal [is] probably not a big option for them.  So it’s going to be a lot of picking and digging and shoring up and crawling into voids, just to see what we can save,” he said.

Despite the devastation, Finlayson said there is still hope.

“We know with the last one in Haiti, there were people saved weeks into the event.  So you can’t just write these places off.  You have to go in and keep searching,” he said.

Two rescue teams from Virginia and California have been deployed to Nepal, where the death toll has already reached more than 5,000 people.

>>More: How to help Nepal earthquake victims



FEMA Urban Search & Rescue

Michigan Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (MI-TF1)

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