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    Hurricane Hermine activates a specialized team of emergency military and civilian responders to Florida’s West Coast

    Hurricane Hermine activates a specialized team of emergency military and civilian responders to Florida’s West Coast

    Photo By Maj. Colleen Krepstekies | U.S. Soldiers assigned to the Florida National Guard partnered with members of the...... read more read more

    STEINHATCHEE, FL, UNITED STATES

    09.03.2016

    Story by Maj. Colleen Krepstekies 

    Florida National Guard Public Affairs Office

    Steinhatchee, Fla. (Sept. 3, 2016) -- After Hurricane Hermine trampled through Florida’s west coast late this week, the state launched military and civilian emergency response teams into action with calls to activate coming during Friday’s early morning hours.
    The response package included the Florida National Guard’s (FLNG) specialized team referred to as the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive, or CBRNE, Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P), and the state’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, Task Force 8 (TF8), that was first on the ground to set-up its mobile emergency operations center in Steinhatchee, Florida.
    “The flooding here is pretty extensive through the houses and the fact that it goes from Crystal River all the way up through the panhandle area so there are a lot of people affected,” said Capt. Robert Graff, TF8 commander, as the team began its initial search of the area Friday morning.
    Graff’s team is one of eight pre-positioned fire and rescue teams scattered throughout the state making up the initial, jointly trained emergency response package for the west coast.
    “We do a lot of training with the Florida National Guard through our organization and also the Florida State Fire College so we communicate real well,” said Adam McCormick, TF8 team member and safety officer. “They take their boat drivers and their equipment and some of our guys are integrated right now with CERF-P and the fire department.”
    At the beginning of this mission responding to Hurricane Hermine’s damage, the rescue operations began gathering information to make an initial assessment.
    “We’re trying to establish how big our search area currently is and then we have to put groups into the field,” Graff said. “We’ll go through and do hasty searches to begin with and then we’ll come back and do more thorough searches.”
    By early Friday afternoon, members of TF8 and the CERF-P launched to begin their survey of damaged structures and locating civilians in need.
    “Everywhere they go, the GPS will show where they’ve been and it will populate a map so it will show where they have and have not been,” said Sgt. 1st Class Chuck Morrow, CERF-P team leader. “It prevents duplication of effort and ensures we go to areas we haven’t gone to.”
    As the team members conducts their search with a GPS, they mark what they find.
    “If they rescue a victim, find a victim, if they find debris in the road or a flood area, they’ll mark it as a way point,” said Anthony Lucin, TF8 team member. “So, an overturned tank is here, then it’s marked with a coordinate. So we know the location and it’s marked.”
    CERF-P teams are a fairly new asset, recognized by the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff in 2007 as a joint capability. Since only 17 states have these teams, only a small number of National Guardsmen receive the specialized and demanding CERF-P training.
    “They do high angle rope extractions, they do breaching and breaking with jack hammers,” said Morrow. “They do confined space rescue and they do it all while wearing hazmat suits.”
    Morrow, who has been leading this initiative since 2004, is one of only two full-time CERF-P Soldiers in the FLNG. The rest of the Guardsmen regularly conduct weekend training with their units on top of the additional three weeks CERF-P training.
    Across both military and civilian emergency response teams, members agreed that they are well prepared to collectively do their mission and that the integrated training has been paramount to their success.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.03.2016
    Date Posted: 09.04.2016 07:10
    Story ID: 208843
    Location: STEINHATCHEE, FL, US 
    Hometown: STEINHATCHEE, FL, US
    Hometown: TALLAHASSEE, FL, US

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