DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Governor Mike DeWine welcomed Ohio Task Force 1 (OH-TF1) home after they spent 15 days aiding Florida officials at the site of the Surfside condo tower collapse.

Other state and local dignitaries, including Thomas Stickrath, director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety (OPDS), and Sima Merick, executive director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency, also greeted the team.

“Ohio Task Force 1, welcome home. We are very, very proud of you,” said DeWine. “When Ohio sends this task force out, we are sending our best.”

DeWine presented a proclamation to members of the the task force Thursday, adding that it’s “a mere token of the appreciation that we have for all of you.” In return, he was made an honorary member of the team and provided a patch, which the governor said he would proudly show in his office at the State House.

The task force has been in Florida assisting with rescue and recovery efforts after the June collapse of a condo building in Surfside. The team was activated for deployment on June 30 after the 12-story building collapsed on June 24, killing dozens of people.

OH-TF1 recovered 14 victims from the Champlain Tower collapse during that time. For ten days straight, task force members worked 12-hour rotating shifts until Florida officials gave them the all clear.

The task force has only been a part of the state budget for two years but DeWine wants to make sure they remain funded for years to come. “Sadly, emergencies do come up, and [OH-TF1 is] ready to go. The least we can do in Ohio is to make sure they have the equipment, the transportation — they have what they need.”

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 Family members awaiting their loved one’s return say the time apart is difficult but know the Task Force 1 team is changing the lives of many Surfside families.

“It’s always challenging, this isn’t the first time out so as a family member we pray and support him back at home,” said Family Member Teresa Beachler. 

In the middle of the interview, Teresa spotted her husband Steve, it was the first time she’s seen him in two weeks. Steve said he’s serves on Ohio’s Task Force for many years because there isn’t a team like them anywhere else.

“To be a part of this group, they’re the best of the best,” said Steve Beachler. “Just to be a part of this group is fantastic.”

Task force 1 has only been in the state budget for two years and Governor DeWine says he will make sure they stay for years to come.

“Sadly emergencies do come up and they’re ready to go, the least we can do in Ohio is make sure they have the equipment and transportation they need,” said DeWine.