Benesch Structural Engineer brings expertise to Nebraska-based Search and Rescue Team

People | August 01, 2018


Photo of Benesch employee Aaron Buettner, PE, VMA, volunteering as a Structures Specialist for the Nebraska Task Force One (NE-TF1)

When he’s not leading Benesch’s Lincoln Division Structural Group, Aaron Buettner, PE, VMA, can be found volunteering as a Structures Specialist for the Nebraska Task Force One (NE-TF1). The task force is one of 28 Urban Search & Rescue FEMA units stationed across the country, each sponsored by local agencies. Comprised of structural specialists, heavy riggers, CDL drivers and equipment handlers, and search dog handlers, NE-TF1 is sponsored by the Lincoln Fire and Rescue.

On May 29, 2018, three members of NE-TF1, including Aaron, were deployed in response to a grain elevator explosion in South Sioux City, NE. Within just a few short hours following the explosion, Aaron and two other Task Force partners were on the scene to complete a damage assessment and identify potential hazards. A visual assessment and survey were completed to monitor the damage, measure out-of-plumbness of the tower following the explosion, and capture any changes in the tower’s status. Aaron stayed overnight in South Sioux City and continued to monitor the tower, departing only after local responders determined that NE-TF1’s assistance was no longer needed.

Aaron was accepted into NE-TF1 in January of 2018 as a Structures Specialist. He is tasked with assessing the conditions of compromised structures (as he did in South Sioux City), developing task force action plans, recommending hazard mitigations to minimize risk to task force personnel, and monitor structures for changes in condition during rescue and recovery operations.

Aaron will continue his USACE Structures Specialist Training in October, which will make him deployable for any federal disaster. From earthquakes to hurricanes, severe storms, dam failures, structural collapse or hazardous materials release, Aaron will continue to play a crucial role on his deployments. His structural expertise and ability to think on his feet allows search and rescue crews to work quickly as they search disaster zones and work together with local responders to keep the public safe.