Philly firefighters join Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts

Early Sunday morning, a select few of Philadelphia’s first responders got a call to help those in need in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

And, according to Captain William Dixon of the Philadelphia Fire Department, the 20 local firefighters called to help Pennsylvania Task Force One – a disaster response team made up of emergency responders and professionals from across the state – immediately began the 22-hour drive to Houston, Texas after they were called to duty at about 2 a.m., early Sunday morning.

The Fire Department shared video of the team rolling out on Sunday through Twitter:

“We had to take some of them off the street,” said Dixon. “What happened was, some were even working that evening, so we had to back fill those positions.”

While he was unable to identify the 20 select firefighters, Dixon did say that they come from engine companies throughout the city and they are joining a 45-member task force. With a 22-hour drive from Pennsylvania to Houston, Texas, Dixon said, he believes the task force team arrived at some point early Monday, but he had yet to hear from the team after their arrival.

Dixon said he expects to get an update from the team at some point on Monday.

“They are going to be going to work immediately,” he said.

Hurricane Harvey touched down in the region of Houston, Texas over the weekend. According to the New York Times, as of Monday morning, at least five people have died and more than a dozen have been injured in the storm that has knocked out power and caused flooding throughout the area.

On Friday, Governor Tom Wolf dispatched two members of the state’s Task Force One, Randy Padfield, the Deputy Director for Response at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and Ken Pagurek, of the Philadelphia Fire Department and Team Leader of Pennsylvania Task Force One to the Houston area.

Padfield will serve as a division/group supervisor, while Pagurek will serve as a urban search and rescue specialist.

The rest of the team sent Sunday, Dixon said, includes team members with training in water rescues as well as specialists with training in working ion confined and collapsed spaces.

“They will be able to do absolutely anything they need to… They are the jack of all trades,” he said. “They certainly have the training and the discipline to get this done.”

Dixon said the team could be dispatched to the region for two weeks, but, they could return earlier if need be. 

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