Texas Task Force 1 celebrates 20 years of service - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Texas Task Force 1 celebrates 20 years of service

(Source: Justin Todd) (Source: Justin Todd)

Texas Task Force 1 is celebrating 20 years of service. The search and rescue team was created shortly after the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma.

Texas Task Force 1 (TX-TF1) functions as one of the 28 federal teams under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s National Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) System.

Since its creation in 1997, TX-TF1 has been on over 100 deployments. Members responded to the first disaster in May of 1997, when an F-5 tornado tore through Jarrell.

Captain Justin Todd belongs to the Killeen Fire Department. He joined TX-TF1 six years ago.

“My first one was in Moore, Oklahoma and that was there for the tornado that went through that lasted a few days," said Todd.

TX-TF1 responds to tornadoes, hurricanes, floods and even terrorist attacks. Each disaster brings destruction to the communities they touch, but they're also physically and emotionally draining for first responders.

“I also went down to Wimberley, during the floods down there, and just saw the devastation,” said Todd.

But that doesn't stop the brave men and women on TX-TF1 from answering the call.

“People are needed," said Todd. "People are needed and I know that if I was in their situation, then I would want somebody trained to come in and do that for us and for me and for my community.”

This highly trained group is prepared 24 hours a day, ready to react at a moments notice.

The TX-TF1 warehouse in College Station is 40,000 square feet. It stores every single vehicle and piece of equipment needed to respond to an emergency. 

“We try and have everybody close enough that we can be wheels up so we need to leave this building, our facility within four hours of notification,“ said Jeff Saunders, director of TX-TF1. "It’s literally set up right now so that we only have one or two things that we have left to pack.”

TX-TF1 currently only accepts applications from personnel who live within 3 hours of College Station. This time constraint is due to the quick response necessary to a deployment.

With at least one deployment per year, Captain Sam Hendricks with Temple Fire and Rescue has been around for almost all of them.

“I’m just grateful to be a part of it for as long as I have been,” said Hendricks.

He's belonged to TX-TF1 for 15 years. It's a volunteer gig that keeps him plenty busy, but he wouldn't trade the experience for the world.

“I’ve seen lots of destruction, but as far as the people and the residents there, I also see a lot of resilience from those affected by that,” said Hendricks.

Members are also trained as specialists in their area and many are cross-trained in other specialties. This training is something each member takes back to their day job, where they protect cities throughout the year.

And the nation, when needed.

“Being a member of that team is something I will always cherish, no matter how long I’m on it," said Todd. "And when I’m forced to retire from it, it’ll be something that I can hang my hat on and brag about when I’m older.”

Although many members are firefighters, TX-TF1 is made up of people from various different professional backgrounds. If you're interested in joining, you can put in an application here: https://texastaskforce1.org/join.

Applications to become a member of TX-TF1 are open each year from July 1 to Sept. 1. 

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