Last evening, a line of very strong and severe storms moved through the region. Upper parts of nearby Montgomery County were especially hard hit. Montgomery County’s USAR Team had worked hard searching and assessing damaged buildings into the night, but there remained a large area still needing to be searched. Around 7:00 am this morning, a request was received from Montgomery County for assistance from the Chester County Rescue Task Force USAR Team. Fame members make up the majority of the USAR team positions, so Station 53 was dispatched. Eleven VOLUNTEERS dropped what they were doing and responded to the call for help. These members are highly trained and skilled, having put in hundreds of hours and years of training at very high levels to be able to deploy. Those that were deployed received the exact same training as the members of Federal USAR teams, in fact, they have been in the same training programs together. All team members must be FEMA US&R trained in structural collapse rescue. Many have also been trained and qualified as FEMA US&R technical search specialists. Several are also ProBoard certified HAZMAT Technicians and the team leader must be trained in advanced incident management levels.
The team left West Chester around 8:00 am and arrived at the staging area at the Upper Salford Fire Department about an hour later. The crew was joined by Chester County Department of Emergency Service, Deputy Director of Fire Services, Beau Crowding. Director Crowding provided valuable liaison assistance. The team was briefed by the MontCo USAR Task Force Leader and provided Montgomery County portable radios. They were then given maps of their area of operations and the group was divided into four search teams, each led by a Technical Search Specialist. Crews had to walk their way through heavily damaged roadways that were blocked by countless downed trees. They made contact with residents to check on their welfare and assess any damage to their property. The team worked hard for several hours and were released and demobilized around 3:00 pm.
This was the first time that Fame and Chester County Rescue Task Force USAR was deployed to assist another county in the South Eastern PA region. Many years of planning and training at a regional level with our partners from Delaware County, Bucks County, Montgomery County and City of Philadelphia led up to this successful operation.
All Fame member returned safely to the station around 4:00 pm. We are very proud of the dedication and professionalism displayed by our members.
As our founding members so eloquently wrote, “With Willing Hearts We Hasten To Assist...”
Photos courtesy of Beau Crowding