Southwest Florida firefighters head to Surfside to help with rescue efforts

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:
Southwest Florida’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 6 headed to Surfside on Friday to help with search and rescue efforts. (CREDIT: WINK News)

Southwest Florida firefighters are ready to assist the Surfside community on the east coast.

On Friday, they packed their bags and rushed to Surfside, just north of Miami Beach, to help in the search and rescue efforts of overturning debris in the hopes of finding survivors.

They train often in order to be prepared for moments like this.

“It’s not every day that you get to go help and do this. We’ve been training for a long time and we’re pretty excited about it,” said Andrew Schmidt, with Task Force 6.

Schmidt is one of 35 specially trained firefighters on Southwest Florida’s Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 6.

The group got the call on Friday to suit up, pack their bags and meet at the firehouse.

They are prepared to be gone for at least a week.

“It’s not like a training simulator where it’s all been safety,” said Greg Dewitt, Task Force leader for Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 6. “This is the real thing.”

Dewitt said he is expecting family members of those trapped inside the collapsed structure to ask questions.

“It’s just hard to see the anguish on their faces,” Dewitt said. “But we know we’re going in there for a reason and sometimes it’s a little disheartening coming out when you didn’t make a grab or you didn’t save somebody.”

Task Force 6 had a meeting at the Bonita Springs Fire  Station, led by Dewitt, before heading to Surfside.

They prayed. They talked. And then they left.

It’s likely the team will be working 12 hours a day searching for survivors.

“That’s why we’re coming there,” Dewitt said. “So we’re there to make a difference and that we’re there to do the best we can and we’re not going to give up.”


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