Tallahassee Fire search and rescue team returns home from Surfside rescue efforts
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Family and friends gave a hero’s welcome to the Tallahassee Fire Department’s Search and Rescue Team after a week deployment to Surfside.
Task Force 7 joined seven other search and rescue teams across the state to assist in recovery efforts following a condo collapse.
Family of some Task Force members say the crew spent most of the week not knowing when they would be back or how long they would be in Surfside, so Monday afternoon was a warm welcome after what’s been a difficult week for many.
TFD says the scene where the condo collapsed in South Florida is reminiscent of Ground Zero. It was there where 27 Tallahassee firefighters have worked for the last week.
“They were on the pile from noon until 12 a.m., midnight. So then they come and rinse and repeat and they do that for seven days,” said Sarah Cooksey with TFD.
The search and rescue crew were helping recovery efforts on the ground. A department spokesperson says it’s one of the most gruelling deployments many of these members have been on.
On Monday, the crew was welcomed with open arms.
“We do a lot of mental health literacy, so we do a lot of education, a lot of training, a lot of workshops with our first responders and also with their family members, that’s a very important component,” said Kellie O’Dare, an assistant professor and director of 2nd Alarm.
O’Dare traveled with the team to provide mental health support and recourses for the peer support team.
“Another goal of ours is to support members after traumatic incidences or anything out of the ordinary such as things like this deployment to make sure they have the resources they need to remain healthy both mentally and physically,” said Lance Butler, peer support team leader.
The group hopes to change the culture behind seeking help, especially after working scenes like in Surfside.
WCTV was unable to speak with members of Task Force 7 on Monday; TFD cited mental health reasons, saying group members are required to take at least a 48-hour break.
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