‘This is what we do’: A look at Butler County resources headed for Hurricane Ida support

Butler County Sheriff’s Office water rescue team has been deployed to Baton Rouge, La to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida that hit land as a Category 4 storm on Sunday.  NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Butler County Sheriff’s Office water rescue team has been deployed to Baton Rouge, La to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida that hit land as a Category 4 storm on Sunday. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones sent a swift water rescue team to Louisiana on Monday to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, and other local emergency specialists are ready to deploy if necessary.

The sheriff’s Emergency Response Services Team (ERS) was called up to assist first responders in Baton Rouge on Sunday and deployed Monday morning to assist with swift water rescue after the Category 4 hurricane ripped through Louisiana.

“All these people here have been trained, and trained, and trained, and this is what we do,” Jones said on Facebook Live while team members were packing up to head south. “We’ve been dispatched to other states before, this isn’t the first time. We’ve got experience and training, do a little bit of everything, we can do extractions, swift water rescue, animal rescue, we can even go into buildings that have collapsed.”

The sheriff sent 20 deputies including a critical incident manager and a full complement of vehicles with four boats, a command trailer “that is second to none” and other rescue tools. The team will be deployed for 16 days. The federal government is funding the operation.

Jones said it would take them 13 to 14 hours to travel and they are prepared to be totally self-sufficient.

“You don’t want to take all these people, all this equipment there and then have to suck the resources off the people that are living there,” Jones said.

Butler County Emergency Management Agency Director Matt Haverkos said his organization was preparing to respond to a request for 30 fire engines on Sunday, but another state answered that call.

ExploreButler County EMA seeking funding for stockpiling emergency supplies

Haverkos told the Journal-News Tuesday they were in line for a possible incident management mission but those requests were cancelled. They remain prepared if the situation changes.

“There are a number of requests coming out of Louisiana and Butler County as a whole stands ready with our public safety community to fill them,” Haverkos said.

Ohio Task Force 1 also has boots on the ground in the south and at least one Butler County first responder is part of the team. West Chester Fire Lt. Trevor Frodge was deployed late Friday with an Ohio Task Force 1 crew of 45 people that was activated as a Type III Urban Search & Rescue (USAR) team.

This is the second time this summer West Chester has had a first responder deployed elsewhere with Task Force 1, Capt. Dave Mainwaring helped sift through the catastrophe in Surfside Fla. where the condominium building collapsed. Township officials said other personnel pick up extra shifts when people are deployed on these missions.

The Red Cross is in the Gulf Coast with about 13 volunteers from this area and more people are preparing to leave for the affected areas. An Emergency Response Vehicle left Dayton early Sunday, these units are typically used for mobile feeding or the distribution of emergency supplies.

The sheriff has been trying to take over EMA for years and the county commissioners have urged the two entities to work together, not separately as appears to be happening here. In this particular instance Commissioner Don Dixon said the sheriff’s mission is uniquely tailored to his office.

“The sheriff’s department has had water rescue for a long time, so they’re the ones that do all the training and they’re recognized as having that expertise,” Dixon said. “So I would think that it would not be uncommon for them to call him out rather than someone from (emergency) management if they need swift water rescue.”