AZ Search And Rescue Team Arriving In Raleigh, NC Ahead Of Hurricane

Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - 4:06pm

A caravan of Arizona emergency responders headed east to North Carolina early Tuesday morning, expecting to arrive before Hurricane Florence makes landfall.

The team of 35 firefighters, two K-9 police officer teams, and ten support personnel includes four crew members who helped 17 years ago in New York, after terrorists took down the World Trade Centers.

The technical team quickly built a reputation for quick thinking in a crisis.

"They were hanging out of windows duct taping antennas so that they could put together a radio system where everybody could be communicating," said Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade.

The team is part of an elite camp that has grown and served in natural disasters over the last several years.

"We've got a very highly skilled swift water team, they were in Katrina, they were in Houston, and now they're headed to the East Coast," said McDade.

It is by no coincidence, he said, that the Federal Emergency Management Agency looks to Phoenix for help annually.

"It's a point of pride for us, for our fire department," McDade said. "We're ready for anything that comes."

He said easterners often wonder why a desert valley tactical team is often called to the east coast.

"Back in the early '70s when the population was booming, and the housing development was going in along valley washes ... we had cars that were being washed away ... Maricopa County was asking for assistance from us," he said.

"Our late, great Chief Alan Brunacini made a dedicated move to challenge our members to become an elite force that could handle those [emergency] operations and built on that," he continued.

The first team started with about a dozen members and has since grown to 120 FEMA certified technical rescue teams.

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