Within the FEMA Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) System, there are three Incident Support Teams (IST). An IST is a standalone team made up of highly trained and qualified specialists from different task forces across the United States. This team supports the deployed US&R task forces through incident command assistance, support logistics, and resupply functions that are typical to a large, complex incident.
In the event of an incident, the three IST members that are closest to the disaster site immediately deploy and provide support until the rest of the team deploys. The 25 remaining members of the IST are given two hours to mobilize after the initial request from FEMA. The three IST teams use a traditional rotation model of red, white, and blue that cycles between “Up”, “Standby”, and “Stand down” on a monthly bases.
The IST is required to be self-sufficient for at least 24 hours and prepared to respond for up to 14 days. In order to comply with this requirement, the IST deploys with a cache of materials designed to fully support operations. There are a total of three IST Caches located across the nation, one in the east US (Virginia), one in the central US (Texas), and one in the west US (California). In addition, there is a supplemental cache that is rarely used, located near FEMA headquarters (Virginia). The IST Cache located in Texas is located at TX-TF1 Headquarters and is maintained by TX-TF1 technicians.
Some of the IST cache includes:
- Tents for establishing a Base of Operations and Field Command Post
- Communications equipment
- ATVs for IST personnel use
- Command vehicle
- Communications vehicles
- 2 semi-tractors and trailers to move the IST cache and vehicles