I have learned today that Texas Task Force-1 has been ordered to deploy to Haiti. If this does make you feel Texas Proud, not much will I imagine. The members of the TX-TF1 are heroes in my book——— not sure they always receive the heartfelt thanks they deserve. But, really, they members of the Task Force do not need to hear the thanks—- they are just happy to respond; render assistance to others, and do a great job helping their fellow citizens. I have friends on the Task Force and I am always impressed by their personal sacrifices to be part of the team; their willingness to go through immense training on a continual basis; and their readiness to risk their lives to help others.
Texas Task Force-1 originated in response to the bombing of the Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. The Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) – the primary agency responsible for coordinating urban search and rescue (US&R) efforts under the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan – became acutely aware that a similar event could very well happen within our state. In October 1996, TEEX assembled an Urban Search and Rescue Advisory Board.
The advisory board included three representatives from within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the US&R response system, and representatives from ten Texas departments and agencies. The group wanted to accomplish the following goals:
1. Create a US&R Task Force for the State of Texas,
2. Create a Regional Search & Rescue Response System,
3. Create a Training Center for Search & Rescue,
4. Develop Regional Training Capability.
In December 1996, FEMA issued a request for proposal (RFP) to add two additional task forces to the existing 25 task forces. The advisory board decided to submit a proposal even though the task force had not been officially formed.
The advisory board and TEEX staff devoted countless hours to solicit applications, interview and appoint 124 members to the task force prior to January 1, 1997. Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, Director of TEEX, allocated $700,000 of agency funds to begin procuring the necessary rescue equipment. On February 14, 1997, Texas Task Force I (TX-TF1) assembled for its first organizational meeting. The advisory board then sought state funding to equip the task force. In May 1997, the Texas Legislature allocated $2 million dollars over a two-year period to equip, train, and operate the task force.
TX-TF 1 has responded to a variety of disasters including Hurricane Ivan, Hurricane Katrina, and the World Trade Center bombing. For more information on TX-TF 1: http://usar.tamu.edu/
I wish safe travels for the deploying TX-TF1 team. Do your good work and come back safely to Texas!