Monday, August 28, 2017

NorthCom already deployed search teams to Hurricane Harvey, standing ready

Posted By on Mon, Aug 28, 2017 at 12:13 PM

click to enlarge First responders from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacán practice bringing a drowning victim to shore using a rescue sled donated by U.S. Northern Command in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, March 22, 2017. As part of USNORTHCOM's humanitarian assistance mission, members of the U.S. Public Health Service provided water search and rescue training to Mexican first responders. - U.S. AIR FORCE 1ST LT. LAUREN HILL
  • U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Lauren Hill
  • First responders from the Mexican states of Jalisco and Michoacán practice bringing a drowning victim to shore using a rescue sled donated by U.S. Northern Command in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, March 22, 2017. As part of USNORTHCOM's humanitarian assistance mission, members of the U.S. Public Health Service provided water search and rescue training to Mexican first responders.

Northern Command, based on Peterson Air Force Base, has already deployed resources to Texas in response to Hurricane Harvey and could send more.

Capt. Chase McFarland reports that a search and rescue "package" and a defense coordinating officer were sent over the weekend to the Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth. The SAR package includes two planners, several helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft, along with two rescue teams. The defense coordinating officer and his support staff will provided the "DoD knowledge set."

"They’re there to support the dual status commander, the commander who synchronizes efforts between active duty and Guard units," McFarland says, adding that all those resources came "from all over."

In addition, he adds, "We provided Randolph [Air Force Base in Texas] as an installation support base. What that does, is FEMA, the Defense Logistics Agency, all these people bringing in meals, water, gas, generators, it allows them to come into that location and then can be forward-distributed into those areas [of need]."

While NorthCom stands at the ready, McFarland says that county and state resources must be depleted before military resources are deployed on a wider level.

"We haven’t had a mission tasking yet," he says. "They’re responding very well. It’s only when they need to fill up with gas they’ll call us."

Even before the hurricane made landfall, McFarland says, "We were already doing prudent planning, saying what could we send. Texas has a very robust guard unit and response unit. If FEMA or the state is asking for federal help, if we have that capability to send it, we would definitely be there to help."

And that is likely to unfold, because NorthCom became a key component of the formula for response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, according to this account by NorthCom itself.

NorthCom was stood up Oct. 1, 2002, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. In addition to protecting America's homeland, NorthCom also performs a civil support mission that includes domestic disaster relief operations that occur during fires, hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.

In another development, the Colorado Springs Fire Department tweeted: "8 Firefighters from CSFD Heavy Rescue Program, members of CO Task Force 1 Urban Search & Rescue are in Houston TX helping those in need."

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