Pennsylvania Task Force 1 deploys to south Florida ahead of Dorian

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- They come from near and far. Some have been friends for years, some meeting for the first time under a roof in the Tacony section of Philadelphia.

Over the next two weeks, they will become a family on a mission to help weather-worn Floridians in the event hurricane Dorian, now a category 4 storm ravishes the peninsula.

They are Pennsylvania-Task Force 1.

"We got a skill set that we know how to use and hopefully we can go out and use our training and help people that need it," said task force member David Herron.

Herron is a rescue specialist with the FEMA funded task force and one 80 members selected for the mission.

"We're looking at a pretty significant storm coming along," he said.

Forty-two members of the task force come right from the Philadelphia Fire Department. The remaining 38 members come from agencies around the state.

"Boats, we're sending water rescue teams, rescue specialist that do house to house searches," explained Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy.

There are also five K-9 units for search and rescue.

"I'm a little nervous but I feel prepared and I'm very proud to be a part of the team," said Debbie Macdonald.

This is Macdonald's first deployment with her partner, K-9 Zakk.

"He finds people that you cannot see, so they would be in a collapsed building or you know in a car," she said.

Members of this task force come prepared with just about everything they'll need for each deployment, but the one thing they can't prepare for is saying good-bye to loved ones each time.

"My son just turned 12 and he was a little beat up over this one. He put a tough face on as I'm getting ready to leave he started crying, that was tougher than the last one," Herron said.

An always powerful motivator to get the job done, and come back home.

"The support from families is tremendous and it actually helps us when we are ready to go out the door," said Deputy Fire Chief Carl Randolph.

The task force left Philadelphia en route to a staging area in Miami.

Pennsylvania-Task Force 1 is one of 28 federal urban search-and-rescue teams overseen by FEMA.
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