JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Rescuers from Northeast Florida deployed Sunday to assist Miami-Dade Fire at the scene of the Surfside condominium collapse are among hundreds from around the country helping in a desperate search to find survivors in the rubble.
Eric Proswimmer, spokesperson for Jacksonville Fire Rescue, said the 80 members sent from Jacksonville Fire and Rescue will eat, sleep and work at the Surfside collapse site for at least the next seven days. Responders will set up camp at a safe, but close distance to the pile.
The 80-person group is split into two teams of 40 -- each team with its specialty. Proswimmer said the teams began work Sunday night and were on the job at daylight Monday. Two live-find dogs with JFRD are also working to help operations.
Update…our convoy of 80 crew members arrived in Miami around 9pm last night…they had little time to get settled as their first 12 hour shift searching the collapse site began at midnight…Long shifts ahead— THEJFRD (@THEJFRD) June 28, 2021
It’s telling that Miami-Dade requested the dogs since JFRD’s dogs are not trained to locate human remains, but rather find live victims. The request falls in line with what the officials leading the operation have been saying all along that the mission at the collapse remains a search and rescue not a search and recovery.
Despite the hopeful tone and worldwide togetherness among crews aiding in the search, Proswimmer said the work responders do will be extremely taxing, physically and mentally. News4Jax is working to find out if the state plans to form a critical incident and stress management team to help responders cope with their experience at the collapse.
Help from St. Johns Fire Rescue was also requested at the site. A spokesperson said SJC rescuers will rotate 12-hour shifts for a seven-day deployment.
Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said called this an extremely challenging situation because of how the 12-story building collapsed.
“It’s compact, extremely compact, so it’s a very slow process where we have to shore, we have to stabilize the best we can, as we’re moving through the area because, again, if there is a void space, we want to make sure we’re given every possibility for survival,” Cominsky said.
Gainesville Fire Rescue also deployed eight urban search and rescue specialists to Surfside on Sunday.