MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. – Ready to respond to disaster, Missouri Task Force One is on active deployment as the southeast coast awaits Dorian.
“Nearly any disaster you can imagine, we have a tool for it,” says Matthew Gough, Missouri Task Force 1 Rescue Specialist and a Maryland Heights Fire Fighter.
The unit deployed to Columbia, South Carolina as the historic storm inches closer. The task force works as a support system for the communities impacted.
Steve Rinehart, Assistant Fire Chief of the Maryland Heights Fire Protection District, explains, “They get on the scene quickly when rescue operations are still taking place and they support the local entities and support that system that’s already working.”Gough is on the ground now and ready to respond. It’s important for the force to be self-sufficient, but even with the powerful equipment packed, the team must be equipped themselves for the task at hand.
“A lot of people are multi-trained on this team,” explained Gough. “Certain individuals don’t just do rescue or just do hazmat. It makes us a better team in the end when everyone is able to do everything because we know what to expect from the next person.”
There are 18 separate jobs ranging from canine search to physicians to rescue specialists and equipment operators. The task force is staffed with enough people to have three rotations available at a moment’s notice. No matter who gets deployed or what the mission is, everyone is eager to help.
“If they need evacuations, rescues, it really doesn’t matter. If they ask for it to be done, we take care of it for them. No questions asked.”