Colorado Urban Search and Rescue Task Force One (CO TF-1) members were activated on August 27 for an August 28 deployment to Lafayette, Louisiana.
The 45 task force members and 3 incident support team members, from 14 Colorado fire departments, conducted search and rescue operations, searched buildings and conducted damage assessments following Hurricane Ida. The team works for Hurricane Katrina in close proximity to where it was deployed 16 years ago.
CO TF-1 drove through the night to reach its destination on the Gulf Coast.
After two days in Lafayette, the team was transferred to Grand Isle, Louisiana, a barrier island hit extremely hard by the hurricane.
According to Rod Tyus, CO TF-1 Program Manager and West Metro Fire Captain, West Metro Fire Rescue is a sponsorship agency for CO TF-1, one of 28 FEMA-led (Federal Emergency Management Agency) teams across the country.
Tyus, a veteran of nearly 39 years with West Metro, goes back nearly 30 years with CO TF-1. He said the volunteers in the group were specialists with a wide range of skills. There are 19 job classifications with positions in planning, logistics, rescue, search, communication, medicine, and dangerous goods.
Since its inception, CO-TF-1 has been deployed outside of the state more than 20 times. Aside from hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods, the task force has been working on high profile incidents like the Oklahoma City bombing and the 2003 space shuttle explosion. The most notable mission for the team was the search and rescue at the World Trade Center site after September 11, 2001. CO TF-1 has also been deployed six times within the state since 1997.
The task force is funded by FEMA. It covers daily costs such as administrative staff salaries, facility rental and maintenance, training, and equipment purchase and maintenance. In addition, personnel costs, travel costs and other operating costs are covered.
Deployment usually takes 14 days, Tyus said, but it can be extended if necessary.