Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Florida Task Force 1 Being Sent To Puerto Rico
MIAMI (CBSMiami) - Members of a specialized unit at Miami-Dade Fire Rescue are getting ready roll so they can lend a hand, if needed, after Tropical Storm Dorian passes Puerto Rico.
"So right now Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Florida Task Force 1 is preparing a 45 person team to deploy to Puerto Rico. This team includes canine search teams, we also have physicians and we have structural engineers so once we get on site they are immediately able to determine what kind of need is needed and start searching and rescuing any potential victims," said Lt Obed Frometa.
The team is being deployed to San Juan. They met at Miami International Airport Tuesday to head to the island. The rescuers were alerted to be on standby to go at a moment's notice, although they're told it's to prepare for at 14 days, they don't actually know when they'll come back.
"We went to South Carolina it was 30 days, it's hard no matter what because you're leaving your family behind so those are the things that come with the job and taking the assignment," said Andy Alvarez with Miami Dade Fire Rescue.
Alvarez said they have an advantage because they spent so much time in Puerto Rico after the deadly Category 5 Maria hit in 2017.
"We know the terrain, we know the main streets, the thoroughfares to get around because we used them already, we have the contacts for the fuel," he said.
Dorian is forecast to be near hurricane strength when it moves close to Puerto Rico and eastern Hispaniola. Although Dorian is not forecast to be near the strength of Hurricane Maria which struck in 2017, they say they'll be ready for whatever happens.
"So we are taking a Type III task force. It allows us to operate for the first 72 hours unsupported, in support of search and rescue and infrastructure assessments on the island post-storm," said FLTF1 Chief Brandon Webb.
The Type III task force will also have an embedded swift/floodwater rescue capability.
In addition to search and rescue and structural assessments, the task force will be able to emergency medical care at disaster sites for trapped victims and task force members.
They will also be able to provide disaster communications support using state-of-the-art satellite systems.
On Monday, a team of roughly 20 firefighters who are a part of Miami Fire Rescue's Florida Task Force II were activated by FEMA and deployed to St. Coix, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
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