GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — First responders from West Michigan are heading into the eye of the storm.
About a half a dozen members of Michigan Task Force One from the Grand Rapids area are part of the 46-member specialized search and rescue team in the Carolinas waiting to respond to emergencies related to Hurricane Dorian.
On Thursday afternoon, News 8 connected with Task Force Director Dave McIntyre as the Michigan convoy made their way through the Carolinas.
“We are halfway between Savanna Georgia and Charlotte North Carolina, and it is heavy rain, high winds,” McIntyre said.
Their destination was Raleigh, North Carolina, where the team was set to stage with other task forces from all over the country.
They’ll respond from Raleigh to wherever they’re needed most.
The team is trained in everything from structural collapse, confined space, high angle rope, trench rescue, heavy machine rescue, wide-angle search and technical search, hazardous material incident and medical emergencies.
In other words, any emergency the meandering hurricane throws at them.
This is not the team’s first hurricane.
They’re prepared for the worst but hoping for the best.
“The storm hasn’t traveled the predicted path that we’ve been watching since late last week,” McIntyre said. “It certainly looks like there’s going to be a direct impact on the state of North Carolina and that’s what we’re prepared for. We hope that it goes out to the ocean and the residents of North Carolina don’t need us, but it certainly looks like we may be in for some type of work.”
Three current Grand Rapids firefighters, one from the Walker Fire Department, as well as retired firefighters and K9 handlers from the area are part of the crew.
All of them leaving their families and the comforts of home to help strangers in need — something that seems to run common in the DNA of first responders.
“They want to serve. They want to serve their neighbors, community, county and state,” McIntyre said. “To be able to go out and help another state because we know if we have an emergency in Michigan, they’re going to offer their help to us as well.”
“So, it really comes down to the want or the desire to serve our neighbors, whether they’re next door to us or in another state.”
Task Force One’s deployment is for up to 10 days, but it could be longer depending on how much havoc Dorian causes.