Maryland firefighters, doctors and engineers on their way to Hawaii to help

Maryland’s premier urban search and rescue team is bound for Hawaii to join the massive recovery effort from the wildfires on Maui.

Maryland Task Force 1 has been tapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to assist teams that are working to get the community back on its feet after wildfires a week ago killed more than 100 people and devastated the historic town of Lahaina.

“We’re rostering in about 70 people, 50 from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue and then our neighboring jurisdictions [assisting] us — DC Fire, Prince George’s County, Howard County and we have a variety of civilians — physicians, structural engineers that will be on board with us,” said Montgomery County Battalion Chief Jason Blake.

The Marylanders will support and, in some cases, relieve rescue personnel who are already at the scene of the natural disaster.

“They don’t know what to expect, so they bring a variety of specialties — structural engineers, medical staff, hazardous materials personnel. So they’re ready to address any concerns that they find,” said Blake.

The task force team’s living quarters are still to be determined along with their precise mission, and it’s unclear how long the mission will last.

“They could be in tents, eating MREs (Meals Ready-to-Eat) for a period of time. It could be a short duration, seven to 14 days. It could be a long duration. It matters what resources we can provide and what needs they have when we arrive,” said Blake.

Maryland Task Force 1 is flying out of Baltimore Washington International and is scheduled to land in Hawaii Thursday morning at 8 a.m.

“They’re eager to go and help people, and relieve their brothers and sisters that are there working already,” said Blake.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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