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MCFRS’ Maryland Task Force 1 Deployed to Aid in Hurricane Florence Relief Efforts

While it now appears that Montgomery County will avoid the worst of the wind and rains associated with Hurricane Florence which is forecast to make landfall near the border between North and South Carolina in the next 48 hours, some of Montgomery County Bravest are headed south to be in position to help once the storm has moved well inland.

Today, Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 7:30 am, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service’s Maryland Task Force 1 (MD-TF1) Urban Search and Rescue Team left Rockville for its deployment by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Columbia, South Carolina, in advance of the massive hurricane which is currently a Category 3 storm.

The team is comprised of 80 members, including those with heavy concrete structure collapse, wide-area search, and swift-water rescue capabilities. The caravan that departed this morning included tractor trailers, support vehicles, six K-9s, and six boats.

“I am very proud that Montgomery County is able to share the expert resources of the members of the Fire and Rescue Service’s MD-TF1 with other areas across the country during devastating emergency situations, said County Executive Ike Leggett. “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who will experience the worst from Hurricane Florence. To the members of MD-TF1, thank you for your service and stay safe.”

MD-TF1 is one of a very few specialized search and rescue units in the country that has equipment, Hazmat Equip Push Packs (HEPP), to respond to incidents involving hazardous materials. The Hazmat pack assists the Urban Search and Rescue Teams whenever they encounter a hazardous material and contamination situations during their response.

“The men and women of MD-TF1 help the residents of Montgomery County and neighboring communities day in and day out, said Fire Chief Scott Goldstein. “Today these folks transition to traveling to the Carolina’s and helping those local communities during their time of need – a very rewarding experience.”

Two hundred members of MCFRS, about half of whom are paramedics, make up MD-TF1 which is trained and managed by FEMA. Other members of MD-TF1 are technical staff, doctors, and firefighters. This team includes two members from Howard County’s Department of Fire and Rescue Services and one from Prince George’s County’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. FEMA operates 28 Task Force units across the country. Hurricane Harvey deployment marked the first time that all 28 teams were deployed since 9/11.

The County’s Task Force Urban Search and Rescue team trains weekly within the County. MD-TF1 members can deploy in three to four hours and are a self-sustaining unit. They take enough food and water to support themselves for three days and provide lodging for themselves to last for 14 days at a time. The MCFRS’s MD-TF1 was first deployed in 1994 after the Northridge Earthquake. That was followed by response to the 1995 Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing and the September 2001 attacks to the Pentagon. They have been deployed in response to several hurricanes to include Katrina and Sandy.

Photos and video courtesy MCFRS.

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