Members of Florida Task Force 2, an urban search and rescue team that includes firefighters from Broward and Palm Beach counties, worked furiously Friday night and early Saturday trying to rescue a 15-year-old girl from the rubble that had been a school southeast of the National Palace in Port-au-Prince.
Meanwhile, another Task Force 2 team was at the site of another downtown Port-au-Prince building that collapsed during the magnitude-7 earthquake that devastated Haiti on Tuesday. That team's goal: rescuing five people that were reportedly trapped under tons of rubble, said Mike Jachles, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman.
"This is their first deployment outside the United States," Jachles said. Task Force 2, considered a domestic team, arrived in the island nation Thursday.
"It was unusual for them to be deployed, but because of the proximity, they were sent," Jachles said. "All are recognized by their fire departments as specialists in technical rescue, which includes the most difficult rescues: trench rescue, high-angle rescue, confined space rescue." There are only two teams considered to be soley international teams, Jachles said.
Task Force 2 has 200 members. Of the 70 deployed, more than two dozen are from South Florida fire departments, he said.
The task force mustered at a fire warehouse in Coconut Grove, Jachles said, with 40 members flying to Haiti on a charter from Miami International Airport, and the other 30 accompanying the team's heavy equipment from Homestead Air Reserve base.
"They are self-contained, self sustained," Jachles said. "They have their own food and water, and travel with their own equipment."