New Jersey’s Task Force 1 stands ready to assist in Florida building collapse rescue efforts
Rescue squads across the country are standing at the ready to assist in recovery efforts following a building collapse near Miami. Among the crews is New Jersey’s Task Force One, the New Jersey State Police urban search and rescue team.
Task Force One program manager Kevin Morrissey says that he knows exactly what rescue workers are going through and what they will focus on.
“The teams down there working, I can tell you, are probably still in search and rescue mode. They are trying to find those people,” he says.
Morrissey’s team is made up of more than 240 volunteers from across the Garden State. They are not only trained for what is happening in Florida, but they have also worked on other similar situations.
“I’d say today they’re in there breaching concrete, using jackhammers and cutting saws. Their engineers have determined where they can operate,” Morrissey says. “They are searching voids, probably using K-9s to detect any live sound, acoustic listening devices.”
Crews will also be using a device called SearchCam, a small camera that can get into small areas and void to find potential victims.
Task Force One is part of New Jersey’s Office of Emergency Management. But it is also one of 28 FEMA urban search and rescue teams. They could be called to Florida and if that happens, they say that they are ready.
“If they were to call us, say today, we’d have to be on the road within four hours,” says Morrissey.
Eighty volunteers at a time, from police officers and firefighters, to doctor, nurses and engineers. They are ready to spend up to two weeks at a time on the scene.
“People volunteer for this team because they have a drive to help bigger than [themselves],” says Morrissey. “Here in New Jersey, during [Superstorm] Sandy, we had a lot of help. We want to help. We’ll go anywhere to help anybody.”
Task Force One also responds to hurricanes and other national disasters. They train at a facility in Lakehurst, but that facility has been closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.