Sunday, May 22, 2022

Virginia Task Force 2 Deployed to Assist in Champlain Tower Collapse

(Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Police)

UPDATE (July 2, 2021 at 10:25 a.m. EST): The Williamsburg City Fire Department has also dispatched a member from their team to aid in recovery efforts. The story has been updated to reflect this new information

Editor’s Note (July 2, 2021 at 8:30 a.m. EST): The original publishing of this story misidentified the name of the building as “Chamberlain Tower.” Its actual name is Champlain Tower. The change has since been made. We apologize for this oversight.

Update (July 2, 2021 at 10:25 a.m. EST): The Williamsburg Fire Department also dispatched a member from their team. The story has been updated with that information.

REGIONAL — The Virginia Task Force 2 has been activated and deployed as a Type I task force to assist in rescue efforts at the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Fla.  

Part of the National Urban Search and Rescue System, Virginia Task Force 2 is able to be deployed by FEMA to any national emergency or disaster.

The Type I task force, made up of 80 members, left the Harry Diezel Fire Training Center in Virginia Beach at noon yesterday. Three structural engineers were deployed on Sunday and have been working at the site since Monday, according to the Task Force’s Facebook page.

Several members of the York/Williamsburg/Poquoson/James City Professional Fire Fighters, Paramedics and 911 Dispatchers were activated Tuesday night.

Don Dinse, president of the York/Williamsburg/Poquoson/James City Professional Fire Fighters, Paramedics and 911 Dispatchers, said that there is no determined timeline yet for how long the task force will be in Florida. 

“Anytime we’re going into these deployments, we leave the families behind,” Dinse said. “The job is dangerous enough when they go to work on a 24-hour shift, but then they add these other dangerous calls to their already dangerous jobs, so it just amplifies the stress.”

James City County (JCC) Assistant Police Chief Tristan Aiken said that two captains from JCC were deployed as members of the task force. 

Capt. Robert Mintern, who Aiken said works in logistics, will be part of rescue planning, and Capt. Jasen Plocharczyk, with Fire Station Four, will work with the rescue squad as part of the rescue efforts in Surfside, Fla. 

According to Nicole Trifone, spokesperson for the City of Williamsburg, Capt. Trey Phaup was deployed from the Williamsburg Fire Department.

York County Deputy Fire Chief Christopher Sadler said that three members from York County Fire have been deployed. 

Responders in York County also respond to incidents all over the country, and in some cases the world, to assist with major disasters.

Sadler said that this is a testament to the training and dedication of their firefighters.  

“We like to tell everybody that York County does not just protect York County,” he said. “We’ve got various regional and national teams that our people are members of.”

Earlier today, all rescue efforts at the site of the condo collapse were halted due to safety concerns. 

“We really don’t know what the team is doing yet,” Sadler said. “They’re very early in getting there and getting their assignments.” 

But now rescue efforts could be affected by Tropical Storm Elsa. 

“I think each scenario brings its own unique stresses with it,” Dinse said. “In this case, our team just went down there and now we’re watching the weather for possible hurricanes coming into the area.” 

The task force reported to Virginia Beach on Wednesday, June 30 and should have arrived in Florida late Wednesday night.

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