California Task Force 3 - FEMA Requests an 80 Person Urban Search and Rescue Team Respond to Hurricane Irma

Published on Sep 07, 2017 at 09:00p.m.

Fifteen Members of the Task Forces Water Rescue Team returned Thursday afternoon after a 10 day deployment to Texas for Hurricane Harvey. They were met by family, fellow Team members and each participating agencies Fire Chief who thanked them for their time and efforts.

Within thirty minutes of their return, a request from FEMA to deploy a full 80 person Urban Search and Rescue Task Force was received and accepted for an immediate need deployment to Florida for Hurricane Irma.

Rather than going home, members of the Water Rescue Team immediately assisted in equipment cleaning and rehabilitation, despite the fact that the majority of them were not being deployed. What normally would take days to clean, service, check and repair was instead done in hours.

California Task Force 3 (CA-TF3) is one of 28 National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Forces sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Eight of the Task Forces are located in California with two in the Bay Area.

The Menlo Park Fire District is the sponsoring agency for the Task Force but it relies on the strength of its partnership with other participating agencies and a dedicated group of civilian professionals to fill out the Team.

Those agencies include the Aptos/LA Selva Fire Protection District, Central San Mateo County Fire Department, City of Monterey Fire, City of Palo Alto Fire, City of San Mateo Fire Department, Genentech, Milpitas Fire Department, Mountain View Fire Department, Redwood City Fire Department, San Francisco Fire Department, San Jose Fire Department, San Mateo County Public Safety Communications, Santa Clara City Fire Department, Santa Clara County Fire Protection District, SRI International, South San Francisco Fire Department, Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety and the Woodside Fire Protection District.

This is the first full Task Deployment since the Operation Alaskan Shield Exercise in 2015 but it is the first actual full scale Emergency Deployment since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Fire Chief Schapelhouman said "we had about 30 minutes in between the Water Rescue Teams return and the activation of the full Task Force. In the last eight hours, over a hundred Team members and helpers have come in and worked on getting everything ready and buttoned up to allow the equipment to be driven across the Country. The convoy leaves tonight with 11 vehicles, 7 trailers loaded with over 60,000 pounds of equipment, eight boats, 4 Drones and thirty personnel who will drive through to a staging area in Atlanta, Georgia."

The other 50 members of team will be flying out to meet the equipment once aircraft accommodations are secured.

The Task Forces were created in 1990 after the Loma Prieta Earthquake struck the Bay Area and Hurricane Hugo impacted the East Coast. Since it's inception, Task Force 3 has responded to some of the worst Earthquakes, Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Terrorist Attacks and other emergencies to impact the United States.

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