Four Baltimore County Fire Department personnel have been deployed to assist with emergency response to the historic flooding in Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey. Two of those individuals are members of White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company.
Two firefighters were deployed early Sunday morning as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency‘s Pennsylvania Task Force #1, a team of specially trained first responders based in Philadelphia.
They are Fire Lt. Byron Welker, a rescue specialist; and Fire Apparatus Driver Operator Steve Yealdhall, a hazmat specialist. They are regularly assigned to the Baltimore County Fire Department’s Texas Fire Station, home of the county’s Urban Search and Rescue team.
FEMA organizes special task forces across the nation and selectively activates them in times of disaster. Over the years, various Baltimore County Fire Department members have responded as part of Pennsylvania Task Force #1 to a number of disasters, including Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero in New York.
Lieutenant Welker, FADO Yealdhall, and the rest of Pennsylvania Task Force #1 left by bus early Sunday morning. They are scheduled to stage outside of the Fort Worth area, where they will receive assignments from FEMA.
“Our thoughts and prayers remain with everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey and its catastrophic aftermath. I am proud that Baltimore County is able to lend its expertise to help our fellow Americans suffering in this historic disaster,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Fire Chief Kyrle W. Preis III said this kind of emergency is exactly why BCoFD participates in agreements with FEMA. “Our job is to make people with the needed skills available when disasters like this occur. We don’t know what role our personnel will be asked to play in Texas. We do know that they are committed and willing to do whatever they’re asked to do.”
Two other Baltimore County Fire Department members – EMS Lieutenants Kevin Palmer and Rick Blubaugh from the White Marsh Volunteer Fire Company – flew to Dallas on Friday as part of Maryland 1-Disaster Medical Assistance Team. Both Palmer and Blubaugh are certified paramedics.
DMAT provides medical care during disasters that overwhelm healthcare infrastructure.