Florida Task Force 2 prepares to be deployed to assist in Hurricane Sally aftermath

MIAMI (WSVN) - A South Florida Task Force is gearing up to assist in the Hurricane Sally aftermath.

Florida Task Force 2 is spending Wednesday morning getting ready to be deployed.

7News cameras caught the Urban Search and Rescue team loading their trucks with all the necessary equipment.

The team is specifically trained to respond to these kinds of situations.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the crew is getting tested twice on Wednesday — one rapid test and another which yields results in 24 hours.

The team will also be accompanied by some four-legged friends as well — Dexter and Arrow.

“These dogs are trained to find live humans in collapsed structures,” said K9 handler Sylvia Arango.

Assistant Chief Scott Dean, who will lead the task force, spoke with 7News about exactly what the crew will be doing.

“Going right now to get everyone through the check-in process, getting COVID tested and getting out the door and on the road within the next hour,” he said. “We’re going to be headed northbound. Current operations, they’re going to be headed to Tallahassee but I think it’s going to switch because of how the hurricane has gotten up to a Category 2 overnight, so they might move us straight into the panhandle and start getting to operations because they’re starting to see a lot of flooding occurring up in that panhandle region.”

When asked what kinds of rescues they perform when deployed, Dean said, “Our task force is made up of 200 members from fire departments from Tampa all the way down to Monroe. We pick the best of the best from each fire department so that we have the most elite and expert members in their field. Our current operation for this one will probably be specifically with water rescue, but they’re trained in multiple things from logistics planning [to] heavy rescues. We can respond to anything that’s a natural or man-made disaster, such as even a terrorist event or an earthquake.”

“This specific team has been deployed to several deployments from the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to the earthquake in Haiti,” Dean added.

Just as the humans are equipped to handle different situations, the K9’s are as well.

“We’re always there to support,” said Arango. “Sometimes they get to search. If it’s a water event, then it’s more difficult, however, they’re also great for therapy. When the dogs are around, it’s a calming effect and it really helps even the people that we’re helping.”

When asked how the crew is being protected during the pandemic and what safety measures are being put in place, Dean said, “We’re going to test them now, but we’re going to try and do social distancing as best as possible, so we’re going to limit how many people per vehicle as we go on the road. We have a medical physician that goes out the door with us. He’ll be screening them all day every day to make sure that there’s no symptoms, no fever. We’ll retest everyone on the way back for COVID as well to make sure that we’re just being as safe as possible. We don’t want to get anybody on the team to take the team out of service when the people in the northern part of the state need us, but we also want to make sure that while we’re out there, that we’re getting healthy individuals over to the citizens that need help, and that we’re not exposing them to any COVID as well.”

The team was set to be deployed at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. 7News cameras captured the trucks heading out just after noon.

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