An Agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia

Emergency Support Team (VEST) Status: Monitoring

VEOC Activation Status: Orange

Special Operations

Overview

The VDEM Special Operations Branch oversees state and regional Hazardous Materials Response, Wilderness Search and Rescue, Incident Management, Urban Search and Rescue, Swifttwater Rescue, Communications Cache, and Unmanned Aircraft Systems assets in support of the seven VDEM regions in order to save lives, protect property and the environment, and meet basic human needs before, during, and after an event has occurred.

HAZMAT
The Hazardous Materials Program, working with other partner agencies, provides training, technical assistance, and on-scene emergency response and coordination. The program is managed by Tom Jordan and utilizes 10 Hazardous Materials Specialists and 12 locally-based hazardous materials response teams to provide rapid advanced technical assistance and support to jurisdictional responders throughout the Commonwealth.

Search and Rescue
The Virginia Search and Rescue (SAR) Program consists of Wilderness SAR, Urban SAR, and Swiftwater Rescue. Bryan Saunders, the SAR Program Manager, maintains these programs and leads operations during disasters through ESF-9.

HAZMAT
The Hazardous Materials Program, working with other partner agencies, provides training, technical assistance, and on-scene emergency response and coordination. The program is managed by Tom Jordan and utilizes 10 Hazardous Materials Specialists and 12 locally-based hazardous materials response teams to provide rapid advanced technical assistance and support to jurisdictional responders throughout the Commonwealth.

Incident Management Team
Four regional Type 3 All-Hazards IMTs are located in Virginia and are managed by Lee Williams. The IMTs work to build, sustain, and improve our capabilities to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate catastrophic events. Each IMT is capable of supporting the localities or states with additional Incident Management capabilities such as Planning or Logistical support to assist the on-scene Incident Commander.

Communications Cache
Virginia has five Communications Caches managed by Mike Keefe to support public safety communications needs within the Commonwealth for emergencies or scheduled events. Our Communications Cache teams provide:

  • VHF, UHF, and 7/800 MHz portable and mobile radios
  • enough batteries and chargers to maintain 24 hour operations
  • access to air band, USCG, and amateur frequencies
  • full P25 trunking capable radios (FDMA/TDMA) in all bands
  • encryption utilizing ADP, DES-XL/OFB and AES128/256, most radios with “OTAR” and multikey
  • trailer mounted and portable repeater mast
  • trailer mounted and suitcase sized portable P25 repeaters in all bands
  • tactical and enterprise level radio interoperability gateways
  • portable VoIP telephone systems
  • wired and wireless mesh data networks
  • satellite voice and data capabilities
  • general IT support

Unmanned Aerial Systems
The VDEM UAS program is managed by Mike Keefe and consists of UAS pilots/aircraft in all seven regions available to support public safety needs, as well as agreements with three regional UAS teams to support large scale incidents. Our UAS platforms are incredibly versatile, supporting search and rescue staff with FLIR capable units, damage assessment teams on mapping missions, or incident support staff with traffic and crowd monitoring.

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