Ohio Task Force 1 deploys to Surfside, Florida, condo collapse

Ohio Task Force 1 was activated for deployment Wednesday to the Champlain Towers South Condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida.

“Essentially we’ll be removing debris and hopefully searching for survivors,” said Jeff Lykins, Ohio Task Force 1 chief and chief of the Dayton Fire Department.

A wing of the 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed early June 24. The death toll is at 18 with more than 140 people unaccounted for, according to the Associated Press.

Ohio Task Force 1 left shortly after 8 p.m. from its base in Vandalia after it was deployed Wednesday afternoon along with four other urban search and rescue teams. It will take about 22 hours of driving to reach the Miami area, Lykins said. On Friday the team was placed on official alert by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to make preparations to respond.

Lykins said Ohio Task Force 1 will deploy with a full complement of 80 members, plus two bus drivers. The deployment also includes K-9 teams and will be self-sufficient so the team won’t tax local resources, he said.

The task force expected to be called to Florida, and started to pack and make other preparations ahead of time, Lykins said.

“It’s slow backbreaking work. Obviously there’s all kind of dangers working on the pile with shifting debris and further collapse potential so it’s a slow tedious process,” he said. “We’re not a surprised that they’re going to be rotating crews through.”

Team members come from both the private and public sectors and include career and part-time fire personnel, law enforcement officers, emergency medical and hospital personnel, structural engineers and other professionals, Lykins said.

Recent deployments include last year following Hurricane Laura and in 2019 for the Memorial Day tornadoes in the Miami Valley and Hurricane Dorian, according to the task force’s Facebook page.

Credit: Jim Noelker

Credit: Jim Noelker

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