Tennessee Task Force One heading to Florida for Hurricane Irma rescue efforts

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Just one day after getting home from a grueling two weeks in Texas, dozens of Mid-South first responders are preparing to hit the road again to help out with Hurricane Irma rescue and relief efforts in Florida.

The call from FEMA came a few hours after Tennessee Task Force One crews were greeted their families at the Frasyer headquarters as they returned home from the Harvey devastation.

"We’re ready to go. That’s what we do," said Memphis Fire Department Deputy Chief Kirk Lock.

Up to 80 members of the team will deploy Thursday morning.

The rescue response team works with FEMA in all kinds of disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes and floods.

The news came as no surprise – in fact, teams thought there was a chance they might not even make it back home before being deployed again.

"It wasn’t a shock when we were unloading last night, turning in equipment, that we get a call from FEMA and says, ‘Hey by the way, we’re going to activate you in the morning. Just be ready for it,'" said Memphis Fire Department Division Chief and Tennessee Task Force One Program Director James Harvill.

"They stand for what’s good in America, and I think that is something we should all be proud of, that these are our homegrown heroes," Memphis Fire Director Gina Sweat said at Wednesday's welcome home event for crew members.

Since teams just got back from Texas Tuesday night, their trucks are already loaded with supplies and almost ready to go.

Harvill says first responders just need to fix some broken equipment, restock medication and do laundry before taking off.

And even though they're exhausted and miss their families, Harvill said it comes with the territory.

"That’s the typical life of a firefighter," he said. "They will report for duty and they’ll be gone for 24 hours. So, they’re used to missing holidays, they’re used to missing family time, they understand the requirements of the position so it’s not a surprise to them and it’s not unexpected."

Tennessee Task Force One rescued nearly 1,500 Harvey victims in Florida, and more than a thousand of those rescues were in a single day.

Harvill said about 80 percent of the team consists of local firefighters, and the rest are civilians, such as doctors, nurses, engineers and K-9 handlers.

"Lots of people, lots of pets," said Memphis Fire Department Division Chief Kenneth Reeves.

And they say there’s no hesitation to do it all over again.

The teams will be activated at 6 a.m. Thursday and plan to leave by 10 a.m.

Harvill said they will first set up at Maxwell Air Force base in Montgomery, Ala. before heading to Florida.



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