COLLEGE STATION — Elite urban search and rescue team Texas Task Force 1 has been activated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in advance of Tropical Storm Ernesto’s possible landfall in Florida later this week.
Texas Task Force 1, which is one of 28 teams under FEMA’s National Urban Search and Rescue Response System, will deploy from its College Station headquarters on Monday and tentatively pre-stage in Atlanta. Members activated include an 80-member Type 1 urban search and rescue team, which is capable of responding to major disaster events, as well as additional incident support personnel.
Sponsored by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), Texas Task Force 1 is one of 12 FEMA teams that have been activated for Ernesto.
Texas Task Force 1 is coming off the record 2005 hurricane season in which the team was deployed for five major storms, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In the wake of Katrina, the Task Force assisted with more than 13,000 rescues in the downtown New Orleans area.
Texas Task Force 1 also serves as Texas’ statewide urban search and rescue team under the direction of the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management. More than 300 emergency responders from more than 60 organizations and departments throughout Texas comprise the team, which includes members ranging from firefighters to medical personnel.
The Task Force has responded to major incidents throughout the country, including the Aggie Bonfire Collapse in 1999, Fort Worth tornadoes in 2000, World Trade Center attacks in New York City in 2001, Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002, the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Texas Task Force 1 maintains a multi-million dollar state-of-the-art equipment cache consisting of more than 12,000 items and weighing in excess of 50,000 pounds. This equipment enables the team to be logistically self-sufficient for the first 72 hours of operation, while being able to function for up to 10 days.