Several teams from around the country staged in the Hammond area earlier this week, ready to help with response to Hurricane Sally.
Close to 200 people on standby were staged at Chappapeela Sports Park Monday and at Ponchatoula Area Recreation District Tuesday while Sally’s impact area became more definitive.
Although the teams have been released from their needs, some of them stayed staged to help areas that were affected, said Ashley Rodrigue, information officer for the state fire marshal’s office.
“We have unfortunately had many experiences we have had to provide our team to others...” she said. “We were glad to see when our call went out, these teams responded quickly and were glad to help.”
Teams that staged in the Hammond area included FEMA teams associated with Urban Search and Rescue from Texas, Missouri, Indiana and Tennessee, Oklahoma’s state USAR team and instate USAR teams from the Shreveport and Lafayette areas.
A USAR team from South Carolina remained on standby but was not needed, Rodrigue said.
The teams specialize in shoring up collapsed structures for people to be rescued, she said. They also specialize in secondary search and help primary responders – the first responders – when they get overwhelmed or cannot achieve certain calls because of structure collapses.
“Whenever there is a hurricane threatening the state, the state fire marshal’s office is manager of structural collapse search and rescue,” Rodrigue said. “They coordinate across the state and work in collaboration with GOHSEP to request their USAR team and FEMA steps in with their USAR team as well.”