Urban Search and Rescue California Task Force 8, currently deployed to Eglin Airforce Base just west of Panama City, Florida, is awaiting the second half of their crew.
In total, there will be 81 members of the team. The task force deployed 45 members to help with Hurricane Harvey two weeks ago, and now they’re preparing for Irma’s worst.
“We did briefings with our task force members,” Battalion Chief Dan Froelich told NBC 7. “We're starting to work on plans. We're going over our equipment, making sure that we're ready to go when we are deployed.”
This response will be a little different from Harvey. For one, they're in position before the storm hits. For Harvey they were mobilized after the storm made landfall. That means they'll be the ones sharing information and giving tips to task force units that follow.
Also for Harvey, they were asked to focus specifically on swift water rescues. “We will be configured to do that, but there also may be structure collapses and structure damage, so we'll be ready to respond to that too,” Froelich explained.
Local jurisdictions will also rely on the group for data. Between the group that has to drive cross-country and the back to back deployments, it’s worth asking how the group is holding up.
“It's something we practice and train for,” Froelich said. “So back to back deployments, that doesn't happen that often. So it is a little rare, but the morale is high. The folks want to get to work and they want to help the people of Florida when that call comes in.”