Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) workers have returned safely after deployments to assist Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Florida following the devastation from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Maryland Task Force 1 (MD-TF1) was made up of 27 personnel who served with eight other Federal Emergency Management Agency teams. They worked around the clock to support the relief efforts. In addition to the search & rescue work, they are providing welfare inspections, assessing infra-structure damage and providing logistical and incident management.
A team of six stress counselors supported the mental health services in Collier and Monroe Counties in Florida.
This rescue effort comes just a few weeks after the team had been deployed to support Texas after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the gulf coast.
The groups are highly specialized and trained to respond to catastrophes such as natural disasters, large-scale accidents and terrorist attacks. Personnel keep their skills honed by training year-round at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy in Gaithersburg.
There are about 200 persons who are members of the MD-TF1, most are associated with MCFRS. The team participates in realistic training scenarios, mostly hands-on at sites around the County, National Capital Region and Federal training locations in other regions. MCFRS is in the process of building and constructing a specific and enhanced training area 'rescue mall' at the new Public Safety Training Academy. This objective is will be accomplished through a private/public partnership and donations are welcome.
The MD-TF1, Urban Search & Rescue Team headquarters is based out of a warehouse in Rockville. The space provides ample meeting areas, equipment storage, including the large vehicles and a cache of specialized search and rescue equipment.