Published on Sep 10, 2018 at 11:54a.m.

September 8, 2018


California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 3 Returning to Kona, Hawaii in Preparation for Hurricane Olivia



California Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force 3 (CA-TF3) was officially Activated by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CAL-OES) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Saturday for deployment to the Hawaiian Islands for Hurricane Olivia


Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said “The rostered 36 member, Type 3 Team (Hurricane Configuration with Water Rescue Capability) flew out of San Francisco Airport (SFO) at 5.30 pm  and will arrive in Kona, Hawaii before midnight on Saturday. Their 40,000 pounds of Technical Rescue equipment, including boats, will be awaiting them and the Team should be fully operational and ready for response by Monday, well in advance of Hurricane Olivia’s arrival. We are also developing other deployment and response contingencies and strategies, as we approach the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11”.

A prior group of 36 Bay Area First Responders and CA-TF3 Team members returned August 31st from their week long response to Hurricane Lane. The specialized Search and Rescue Team was first deployed to the Island of Oahu where they worked closely with the Honolulu Fire Department in advance of the Hurricane. Once the threat to Oahu passed, they were quickly re-deployed to the Big Island of Hawaii where the Hurricane broke rainfall records, causing wide spread flooding, mud slides and rescues.


After arriving in Hilo, that group of Task Force 3 responders assisted the Hawaiian Civil Defense Group with searching 81.2 square miles of remote areas and assessing 1,645 structures which represented 100% coverage of these outlying and more remote areas of the Hawaiian Island like Fern Forest, Mountain View and other areas that required welfare checks and damage assessments that were completed in just three days.

The Bay Area Task Force is one of twenty eight National Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces for the United States, sponsored by FEMA and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Eight of the Teams are in California with two in the Bay Area. Task Force 3 is first up for deployment in September, amongst the nine other Task Forces located on the West Coast.


The Menlo Park Fire Protection District is the sponsoring Fire Agency for the Task Force but uses strategic participating Agency agreements with other local Fire Agencies to staff the Team. In addition to Fire District Firefighters, Search and Rescue personnel for this deployment will come from the Central San Mateo County Fire Agency, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City Fire Departments, Santa Clara County Fire Authority, San Jose and San Francisco Fire Departments, Genetech and other highly trained, experienced and dedicated civilian professionals like Doctors, Structural Engineers, Heavy Equipment Operators, Dog Handlers, Hazardous Materials experts, Radio Communications and Technical Information personnel, all who possess specialized skill sets.


Pictured Below – Members of California Task Force 3 prepare to leave from their warehouse in East Palo Alto for Hawaii in advance of Hurricane Olivia – Photo Credit Menlo Fire Battalion 1


Pictured Below – K9 Members of California Task Force 3, Vita and Vader, from SFFD, take a break while they await departure from the Teams warehouse in East Palo Alto for Hawaii in advance of Hurricane Olivia – Photo Credit California Task Force 3


Pictured Below – Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman (left) respectfully presents the American Flag to Task Force Leader, Carl Levon Kustin (Right) which will be flown over the Teams Base of Operations on 9/11 and while the Team operates in Hawaii. Schapelhouman and Kustin are founding members of California Task Force 3 (Est 1990), first serving together during Hurricane Iniki in 1992, the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, Ground Zero (The World Trade Center) in 2001, and during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – Photo Credit California Task Force 3


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