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MOHS deploys Search and Rescue Task Force to Florida

Photo courtesy of the Starkville Fire Department

Teams specializing in advanced search and rescue techniques are being deployed to Florida today as part of requests from that state to assist in dealing with Hurricane Irma. The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security has invested millions of federal grant dollars into advanced training for Mississippi’s local first responders as part of its mission to strengthen the state’s ability to respond to disasters.

The Mississippi Search and Rescue Task Force program brings together local responders into three regions (north, central and south) that are able to deploy within MS when local assets are overwhelmed, and can be deployed to other states when their services are requested. A fourth Task Force focuses on all of the logistical supplies the responders need to complete their mission.

The training for these teams is extensive, just last month alone MOHS funded training for these responders reached 3,408 man-hours.

Once they arrive in Florida, this task force will provide a highly specialized, all-hazards response capability and assist local jurisdictions that are overwhelmed.

In response to the deployment Mark McKee, the Executive Director of MOHS, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by this storm and we’re proud to help support them however we can. These MSSARTF members are outstanding and train hard to be prepared for situations such as this. In my opinion, they are the very best at what they do. Florida has a long history of assisting Mississippi, we are glad to be able to return the favor.”

Photo courtesy of the Columbus Fire Department

The makeup of the Mississippi Search and Rescue Task Force assets deployed is:

  • 35 first responders with expertise in swift water rescue, collapsed structure rescue, hazardous materials technicians and logistics officers.
  • The members of this team come from agencies all across MS, including: Biloxi, Columbus, Desoto County, Diamondhead, Grenada, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Hernando, Horn Lake, Madison, McComb, Olive Branch, Oxford, Philadelphia, Pike County, Southaven, Starkville and Tupelo.

Additional assets requested by Florida include:

Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP):

  • 26 swift water search and rescue personnel to assist FL Department of Wildlife.

Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH):

  • Six personnel to support health operations at the Florida Emergency Operations Center.

Mississippi Department of Human Services (MDHS):

  • A specialist to lead Mass Care Feeding, Sheltering, and Reunification Task Force Groups.

Mississippi National Guard (MNG):

  • Two CH-47D/F Aircraft and 20 personnel to provide aviation capabilities.

Harrison County Emergency Management:

  • Five member All Hazards Incident Management Team to support local emergency management coordination.

MOHS is a division of the MS Department of Public Safety.

Daily updates on the MS Search and Rescue Task Force will be available on the MOHS Facebook and follow MOHS Twitter by searching @MS_Homeland_Sec.

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