DURHAM N.C. (WNCN) – Premier U.S. search and rescue teams are on their way to help the recovery efforts in Turkey following a massive 7.8-magnitude earthquake Monday.

One of the teams is Urban Search and Rescue Virginia Task Force 1 from Fairfax County, Virginia.

Before becoming Durham’s fire chief, Bob Zoldos deployed more than a dozen times all over the world with Virginia Task Force 1, including during the aftermath of the 1999 earthquake in Turkey.

“I wish them Godspeed and good luck in and hope they can make a major difference there. I know there’s no better team to do it,” Zoldos said. “They know what they’re doing, they’re well trained, they’re well equipped, well supported. It’s the best team in the world.”

Zoldos said the recovery efforts for major disasters work in three main steps: to set up base plans, send out search crews, then meticulously tunnel through the rubble to remove anyone trapped inside.

“All the things that they use are probably going to be a lot better and the rescuers are going to be better because when I was a rescue specialist, we taught the next generation,” Zoldos said.

By Tuesday afternoon, more than 7,000 deaths had been reported by Turkish and Syrian officials, with tens of thousands estimated injured.

“Those numbers are almost always going to go up because they’re going to find more and more people who perish in the incident,” Zoldos said. “They’re trying to give a scope to the world, a scope to the UN and a scope to neighboring countries that are trying to help them of how bad this incident is.”