Tennessee Task Force One deploys for Florida ahead of Irma

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Tennessee Task Force One deployed to Florida Thursday morning, headed first for a Georgia Air Force base ahead of Hurricane Irma’s potential landfall in the U.S.

Many of the crew members only got home from Harvey rescue and recovery efforts in Texas about 36 hours ago, but spirits are high and they say they're ready to help out again.

"It was very rewarding for those guys to make so many rescues and evacuations, and we’re hoping to make the same difference for Irma," said Memphis Fire Department Division Chief James Harvill.

Eighty first responders packed up their gear again Thursday morning.

One rescuer said the most challenging part is all the planning necessary for a trip like this.

"Just logistics, getting everybody where we need to," said Tennessee Task Force One Rescue Squad member Jonathan Haley.

Crews will pre-stage at Robins Air Force Base, just south of Atlanta, before heading to a disaster zone in Florida if Irma makes landfall in the U.S. as expected.

"I hope it doesn’t hit," Haley said. "I hope it veers off and doesn’t do any devastation, but we’ll be close enough if something happens, hopefully we can get in and help the people who need it."

But it’s not just human rescuers lending their skills – seven FEMA search and rescue K-9s also headed down with rescue teams to help with the efforts.

"We can put them on a flooded roof and they can smell through the roof if there’s anybody inside the attic spaces, so they’re a very valuable asset when we get out and have a big area to search," Harvill said. "They can do it in five times the speed that a person can."

It’s a dangerous mission, and team members admitted it’s tough on their families not knowing if they’ll be safe and when they’ll be back home, but it’s a job these men and women take seriously.

"When you can help somebody and make a difference, there’s some really good people out there, and I would want somebody to do the same thing for me," Haley said.

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