4/16/2015 12:00 AM
COLLEGE STATION - Texas Task Force 1 Operations Chief Jeff Saunders has been named Director of the statewide urban search and rescue team. TX-TF1 includes over 670 firefighters, water rescue specialists, heavy rescue specialists, medical personnel, structural engineers, canine handlers and others from throughout Texas.
Sponsored by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), the team can be activated by the governor through the Texas Division of Emergency Management or as one of FEMA’s 28 sanctioned urban search and rescue teams. The team has been deployed more than 90 times since 1997.
Saunders has 30 years of experience in emergency services, and before joining TX-TF1, he served on New Mexico Task Force 1 as a rescue specialist and Task Force Leader. He was also Operations Chief at the Santa Fe County Fire Department for five years. In 2004, he became Operations Chief for TX-TF1, where he has been responsible for day-to-day operations, training and logistical readiness of personnel and equipment. He also serves as Emergency Service Function 9 (ESF-9) Operations Chief for Texas, coordinating US&R response and readiness as well as flood and swiftwater mitigation.
As a member of New Mexico Task Force 1 and TX-TF1, Saunders has responded to the Pentagon after 9/11, to the explosion in West, Texas, the Moore, OK, tornado, the Bastrop Wildfires, and to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan, to name a few.
Saunders received the Medal of Valor for exemplary service during the Cerro Grande conflagration in Los Alamos, NM, and was appointed by the NM Governor to the New Mexico Task Force 1 Steering Committee. In 2010, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service presented Saunders with the Distinguished Service Award, the agency’s highest honor.
Saunders replaces TX-TF1 Director Billy Parker, who retired on March 31.
About Texas Task Force 1
TX-TF1 is sponsored by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, or TEEX, and has deployed over 90 times since 1997, including the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, Sept. 11th 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.
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.
Texas Task Force 1 Website: www.texastaskforce1.org/