Bay Area first responders deployed to Florida

Bay Area

MENLO PARK (KRON) — Landfall on the Florida coast is still days away, but local first responders are making the decision to get out there now.

Two members of the Bay Area Urban Search and Rescue Task Force have been deployed, bracing for the unknown.

“If people are in need of rescue, if agencies are overwhelmed, you know that’s what these teams are brought in to do,” Menlo Park Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said. “They’re very capable, they’re almost like the swiss army knife of rescue, really these are the special forces of rescue in the United States.”

Schapelhouman said the two men deployed are experts in search and rescue, one a retired Menlo Park Firefighter, the other a San Jose Battalion Chief.

“They’re part of an incident support team,” Schapelhouman said. “They’re there in advance of the hurricane’s arrival to work with the local first responders and then the state.”

The trip to Florida is the first visit since Hurricane Irma that slammed the state in 2017.

The rescue team was deployed for a week.

The task force specializes in earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes.

The team was last deployed to the camp fire in Butte County to search for human remains.

The remaining members of Task Force 3 are prepared to be deployed at anytime while keeping a close eye for wildfires here at home.

“I’m hoping that nobody needs to be activated because once you’ve seen one of these you realize how devastating that it is and how much it can really disrupt and ruin people’s lives for a long period of time, right? People can die, people can be hurt, so forth,” Schapelhouman said.

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