10/19/2007 12:00 AM
For 10 years, members of Texas Task Force 1 have been there to answer the call for help in Texas and across the nation.
The organization traces its roots back to a common idea--creating an emergency resource that could respond to man-made and natural disasters.
Texas A&M Vice Chancellor Kem Bennett was one of several individuals instrumental in creating Texas Task Force 1. He says once a plan was in place, it was set into motion.
"We banded together to form the team and got the support of our Texas legislature to give us the resources, so we could conduct the training and get it done," Bennett said.
As a result of Bennett's and others' foresight, Texas now has highly-trained men, women, and canines who have been called upon in times of great need.
On three separate occasions members of the elite response team answered cries of help heard throughout the country--the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita's wrath on the Gulf Coast states in 2005.
However, on November 18, 1999, their training was needed at their home headquarters. Early that morning, the Aggie Bonfire collapsed.
Bryan Fire Chief Mike Donoho, who has been a part the Texas Task Force 1 for 10 years, says a number of College Station and Bryan firefighters who arrived on scene knew exactly how to respond.
"We had several members of both departments that were members of Texas Task Force 1," Donoho said. "The training that we received in structural collapse helped us out considerably."
Task Force Director Bob McKee says that each team member possesses the courage and the drive to enter dangerous situations.
What many may not realize, it that their job also requires the buy-in from others.
"If it were not for the families, we could not do what we do," McKee said. "And the families are truly the heroes behind the heroes."
On Saturday, past and present members of Texas Task Force 1 will gather at a celebration to reflect on their beginnings and their future.
"We have made great strides by the opportunities and patience and by the advice of the original founders that got us to where we are," McKee said. "We can never forget where we've come from."