Hernando Garzon, MD
Urban Search and Rescue
“Responding to a disaster is similar to the kind of unknown that we encounter in the Emergency Department — but on a massive scale. What interests me about both circumstances is the ability to bring order to a chaotic situation.”
In 1992, his first year with TPMG, Dr. Garzon joined a volunteer Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team being formed in Sacramento. After three years of training and drills, Dr. Garzon and Dave Graber, MD, Emergency, Roseville, were called to respond to the Oklahoma City bombing—the first deployment of USAR in the country. Each two-physician/four-paramedic team is charged with caring for entrapped victims that are encountered during the rescue efforts, as well as for the 58 other members of their USAR team who may need medical attention.
Since Oklahoma City, Dr. Garzon has been deployed seven times—for everything from a rock slide in Yosemite in 1996 to the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001. In between deployments, he volunteers as the Chairperson for the Medical Working Group of the National Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and as Medical Director for the California Office of Emergency Services, which oversees the eight USAR teams in the State.
“The most rewarding aspect has been participating in the training of more than 400 California physicians and paramedics to do medical search and rescue,” comments Dr. Garzon. “That’s as many as the federal government has trained in the rest of the country.”