Phoenix Fire team heads to Louisiana to help in wake of Hurricane Laura

Aug 27, 2020, 12:31 PM | Updated: 12:31 pm
Arizona Task Force 1 prepares Aug. 26, 2020, for deployment to Louisiana to help in the area impact...
Arizona Task Force 1 prepares Aug. 26, 2020, for deployment to Louisiana to help in the area impacted by Hurricane Laura. (Phoenix Fire Department Photo)
(Phoenix Fire Department Photo)

PHOENIX – Just before midnight Wednesday, a specialized Phoenix-based rescue team deployed to Louisiana to offer help in the aftermath of Hurricane Laura.

Forty-five members of Arizona Task Force 1, a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Team made up of Phoenix Fire Department personnel, will be on the ground to offer help following the Category 4 storm, one of the most powerful to strike the Gulf Coast in decades.

Phoenix Fire Capt. Rob McDade described the regular training the team endures that has prepared them to offer FEMA assistance following the catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding.

“We’ve deployed on numerous hurricanes in the past decade and we do have the reputation of having highly skilled members of our boat teams, which can be used in any fashion,” he said.

Despite responding to several hurricanes in the past, Arizona Task Force 1 will face something for the first time during this deployment: a pandemic.

Just hours before they left Arizona, task force members got the call that it was time to report to duty. But first they had to pass a medical check – including a coronavirus test.

“We made sure that we didn’t send anybody out there [who tests positive]. We can’t have anybody on this team that would have it [COVID-19],” McDade said.

“Our members are regularly tested and we feel confident that we will be able to sustain as long as we are needed.”

The team hit the road to Baton Rouge with supplies and trailers full of response gear, boats and two search-and-rescue dogs. It was unclear how long the deployment would last.

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Phoenix Fire team heads to Louisiana to help in wake of Hurricane Laura