SOUTHWEST FLORIDA (FLV) – Search and rescue teams were deployed Thursday morning to begin life-saving missions on the barrier islands in southwest Florida.
Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis announced Thursday morning that four Urban Search and Rescue Teams and two Virginia Teams were deployed once the winds died down.
Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 will be flying out of Fort Myers to the Captiva barrier islands and Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 2 (FL-2 – City of Miami) is on scene and conducting reconnaissance missions of Marco Island.
Patronis updated Thursday afternoon and announced that eleven Urban Search & Rescue Teams were deployed to southwest Florida. He said with the National Guard teams it brings the total number of those tasked with life-saving missions to 650 people.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and state officials held a press conference Thursday morning.
“So as soon as that storm passed in the very wee hours of the morning, first responders from the local, state and federal level descended on Southwest Florida,” DeSantis said. “The Coast Guard has been performing rescue missions on the barrier islands consistently since the wee hours of the morning.”
Each team will be paired with the Florida National Guard and medevac helicopters, so that those who need medical assistance can be immediately flown to safety. Each task force is made up of approximately 90 personnel. These personnel include physicians, structural engineers, search and rescue, and K-9s with handlers.
“Hurricane Ian basically sent the full force of the Gulf of Mexico over these islands, but fortunately Florida’s Urban Search & Rescue teams are the best-of-the-best when it comes to saving lives,” Patronis said. “They’ve got the training and the equipment to get the job done.”
The rescue operations began with the barrier islands but also will focus on places that had the most inland flooding. DeSantis said in total there are 28 large helicopters between the National Guard and Coast Guard performing rescue missions.
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