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Texas A&M Task Force 1 seeking volunteers for emergency response team
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Texas A&M Task Force 1 seeking volunteers for emergency response team

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Texas Task Force 1

A member of Texas Task Force 1, an urban search and rescue team maintained by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, is lowered from a helicopter at RELLIS Campus on Nov. 14, 2017, during a monthly hoist-rescue training session.

Texas A&M Task Force 1 is seeking applicants for 11 volunteer positions to assist in its mission of responding to a range of emergencies in the state and nationwide.

TX-TF1 recently responded to the partial collapse of the condominium building in Surfside, Florida, and assisted with the search for survivors.

TX-TF1 is one of 28 federal teams under FEMA’s National Urban Search and Rescue System. The task force was formed in February 1997 after the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. TX-TF1 responded to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and has been deployed more than 100 times on a variety of search and rescue missions.

Operations Chief Chuck Jones said last week people from “all walks of life” and a range of professions join the task force, with the majority of members, but not all, coming from public safety such as firefighting. The open positions cover a wide range of skill sets, including a canine search specialist, a communication specialist and a rescue specialist.

“Our job is to respond to a lot of different emergencies. We respond to tornadoes, hurricanes and all kinds of natural and man-made disasters,” Jones said. He said the task force also assists with combating wildfires, helping state agencies and a range of other tasks.

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“We don’t know when the call will come, but the state of Texas has more declared emergencies than any other state in the United States,” Jones said. He said a typical year sees 6-10 deployments, but in 2020, TX-TF1 deployed 21 times, with some of those deployments related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s a volunteer organization. They’re not in it to make money. They’re in it because they want to help other individuals when it’s the worst time in their lives,” Jones said. “All of the members of our task force – that’s why they’re in the business. There is nothing more gratifying than being on a rescue boat and helping get a family to safety. There is not much that’s more gratifying than saving a human life.”

Applicants must live within a three-hour drive of College Station, and applications will be accepted through Sept. 1.

“We’re looking for people who want to give back. It’s not always glamorous, but if your aim in life is to give back and help others, this is an organization to consider becoming a member of,” Jones said.

To learn more about the open positions and about Texas A&M Task Force 1, visit texastaskforce1.org/join.

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