Texas Task Force One joins rescue and recovery efforts at World Trade Center

9/14/2001 12:00 AM

Texas Task Force One, the urban search and rescue team sponsored by TEEX, is heading to New York City to assist in rescue and recovery efforts at the site of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The team was called out by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Approximately 72 team members, including four canine members, are going to New York City on Monday, Sept. 17, to replace emergency workers who have been at the World Trade Center site since the Sept. 11 attack. TX-TF1 includes rescue specialists, hazardous material specialists, structural engineers, medical personnel and logistics specialists.

“Texas Task Force One stands ready to serve this nation,” said G. Kemble Bennett, TEEX director and director of the task force. “We carry the hopes and prayers of all Texans with us as we depart to serve our country.”

“This is the biggest incident that has ever hit us,” said Texas Task Force leader Tim Gallagher, who led the Arizona search and rescue team at the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah building. “Nothing in 20 years as an emergency responder prepared me for Oklahoma City, and this has even more significance because so many rescue workers have been killed.” But with the tools, the expertise and the training the team has, Gallagher said he is confident “we can search and dismantle any structure in the world today to get to survivors.”

“Our team is highly trained and highly skilled,” Gallagher said. “We just have to stay focused on the task. We’ll do the best job that we can.”

“We’ve dealt with structural collapse before,” said team leader Tony Tortorice. The team helped with search and rescue operations following a tornado that struck downtown Fort Worth in 2000. “The size and magnitude of this event is unparalleled. We hope to find people alive, but we also want to keep our team members safe. The mission has risks, but our team will do its job with pride and do it well.”

The team may be split into two 12-hour shifts once they reach New York City, and debriefings will occur after each shift, officials said. The team includes individuals trained in critical incident stress management.

TX-TF1 is comprised of three teams: red, white and blue. The white team will be going to the site of the World Trade Center disaster, while the blue team will be on standby.

The team takes with it nearly 60,000 pounds of equipment and supplies, water and food, which supports the team and makes it self-contained for 72 hours.

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Kathy Fraser

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