Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service personnel from Montgomery County are in Texas this week as part of Maryland Task Force 1 to assist with emergency response to Hurricane Harvey.
Maryland Task Force 1, composed of MCFRS personnel, is one of 28 Federal Emergency Management Agency groups around the country that FEMA organizes, manages and can choose to activate, said MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer.
“All 28 teams are engaged, most of which are actually involved with swift water rescues,” said Piringer. “This is the first time since 9/11, I believe, that all are engaged at the same time.”
“The rest of the task force is on standby in Maryland,” he said.
One category which Montgomery County emergency response deployed to assist is swift water rescue, Piriginer said.
“The (swift water rescue) contingent that went was somewhere close to 20 people,” Piringer said, of Maryland Taskforce 1.
About 80 people make up the complete Maryland Taskforce 1, Piriginer said.
Monte Fitch, the Maryland Task Force 1 leader, said Tuesday although the deployed group members were located in San Antonio and not Houston, they were excited and ready to help the displaced Texans.
“We are standing by right now for orders to move to College Station most likely and possibly from there to a deployment,” said Fitch, in San Antonio. “We are eager to go to work. We want to help those people and get them to safe locations. We want to put them into a safe situation.”
One of the challenges they face even before they deploy is the flooding.
“We are trying to get to safe places to make sure our equipment isn’t flooded,” said Fitch. “They’ve had areas that they thought were high enough, and then the water came.”
Fitch said Tuesday two Montgomery County fire and rescue personnel are assisting with incident management and incident support in Houston and College Station.
Rebekah Jastremski, the marketing manager for the Red Cross of the National Capital Area, said four people from Montgomery County and four people from Prince George’s County have been deployed to Houston.
Of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue personnel, Jastremski said two people from Montgomery County are mass care sheltering service associates; one person both is mass care feeding supervisor and drives an emergency response vehicle; and one person is in charge of individual disaster care and disaster spiritual care service.