Friday, May 31, 2013

Texas Task Force 1

Rescuing two dogs and carrying
them down the pile to safety.
(Texas Task Force 1 Facebook page)
As the recent events in Moore, Oklahoma and West, Texas remain fresh in our minds, we must remember the brave responders and volunteers who came to the aid of those affected. One such group deployed shortly after the fertilizer explosion in West and the tornado in Moore was Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1).
Justin Todd of the Killeen Fire Department and Disaster Medical Specialist for TX-TF1 told KBTX that “Just the damage that I had to witness down there I will never forget. I've lived through two tornadoes before in Central Texas but nothing, nothing, compares to what I saw and experienced in Oklahoma.”

Returning back home from
Moore, Oklahoma
(Texas Task Force 1 Facebook page)
TX-TF1 is sponsored by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and has deployed more than 90 times since 1997, including the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, September 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack, and Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike. TX-TF1 can be activated by the Texas Division of Emergency Management or as one of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 28 sanctioned urban search and rescue teams.

Sifting through the rubble after the fertilizer
explosion in West, Texas
(Texas Task Force 1 Facebook page)
Members of TX-TF1 range from firefighters and medical personnel, to structural engineers, and come from all areas capable of reporting to College Station within a five-hour window. The task force consists of three separate units of approximately 80 members each. The teams rotate on a monthly standby, stand down or on call status.

Brian Blake, Communications Director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, said “Texas Task Force 1 is the most deployed of the FEMA search and rescue teams all across the United States. These really are the best of the best.”

Bud Force captured the spirit of these remarkable responders in his book Texas Task Force 1: Urban Search and Rescue.

Surveying the damage after the fertilizer
explosion in West, Texas
(Texas Task Force 1 Facebook page)
Responder Susann Brown stated “There's a feeling in the room when I walk in and I see the faces of the other responders I work with. My stress level drops because I know that whatever happens, we'll figure it out and do what we need to do to get the job done. I know that because I know the people in that room can do it.”
Responder Matthew Minson followed by saying “The principle of helping others is as fundamental to the search and rescue members I know as is breathing.”

For more on this remarkable search and rescue team, check out Bud Force’s new book on shelves now or order your own copy here.