Ohio Task Force 1 assists with helicopter mission as search efforts continue in Kentucky

Ohio Task Force 1 is continuing to help with search efforts in western Kentucky after multiple tornadoes in the Midwest last week killed nearly 90 people.

Search efforts included a helicopter mission Tuesday, as well as the task force’s canines and handlers assisting the Indiana Task Force 1.

“The cooperation between teams is one of the hallmarks of the FEMA [urban search and rescue] system,” said Phil Sinewe, OH-TF1 public information officer. “Our canine handlers easily transitioned over to the Indiana team and helped them complete some difficult search work on several heavily damaged structures; they then returned and worked multiple structures that Ohio was handling. The final goal is to provide search and assessment services to the entire area; cooperation between teams is critical for this goal.”

Search Team Manager Brian Petry was assigned to a helicopter mission on Tuesday to photograph impacted areas that are hard to access. He then worked with local authorities to determine way to get to those areas.

“The helicopter mission emphasizes the magnitude of damage in the area again,” said Jim O’Connor, OH-TF1 leader. “Local authorities are still working on accessing parts of the community, highlighting the struggles this storm has created. While there are multiple struggles, the entire team remains in high spirits because of the determination and positive attitudes of the Kentucky residents they interact with each day.”

Dawson Springs, Kentucky continues to be the task force’s focus as search efforts continued Wednesday.

“While we all acknowledge the performance and professionalism of the deployed team, the Task Force is also proud and honored to represent all Ohioans in this effort,” said OH-TF1 Program Manager Evan W. Schumann. “We are grateful for not only the financial support from the State of Ohio, but for the emotional support so many Ohioans convey to us daily; it is humbling, and very important to the task force’s ability to continue our missions.”

About the Author