DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Ohio Task Force 1 (OHTF1), and four other FEMA Type-1 Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, have been activated for deployment to the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse in Florida.
OHTF1 will deploy at 7 p.m. Wednesday evening from its Old Springfield Road location in Vandalia.
The task force, which is 80 members strong and has several canine search teams, will be aiding in the weeklong search and rescue efforts in Florida. The Dayton Fire Department is also sending six highly trained members of its team with OHTF1.
Task Force leaders say the type of disaster they’re heading into reminds them of responding to 9\11.
“We were deployed to the World Trade Center in 2001 to New York so this isn’t the first time this Task Force has been to something like this,” said Program Manger Evan Schumann. “This is our mission, when buildings collapse, that’s why task forces exist. This is what team members have trained for during their entire careers so from that respect, they’re ready.”
Former Montgomery County Sheriff and current Representative Phil Plummer encouraged the men and women to stay mentally strong saying the collapsed Champlain Towers is a living nightmare.
“I’m out of the fight now, retired now but here’s what I’m going to do, every night when I lay down I’m going to pray for you,” said Rep. Plummer. “Stay tough, stay strong, you guys are fighting machines, but we see things in our careers, we take things home with us guys need help, talk to each other and take care.”
Ohio’s Task Force 1 has only been on the state budget for two years and local lawmakers say they’re hopeful to gain state support for their missions.
“Hopefully by midnight the governor is going to sign that budget and get Task Force half a million dollars in the next two years and $50,000 to fix this place up,” said State Sen. Stephen Huffman.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said four bodies have been uncovered and crews have also found other human remains. As of Wednesday, 147 people are missing and believed to be trapped in the rubble and 18 are believed to be dead.