A specialized team of first responders from Vermont is on the ground in North Carolina, ready to jump into action in case communities there need emergency assistance after Hurricane Dorian blows through.
“The storm is a monster,” observed Dave Auriemma, a senior firefighter with the Williston Fire Department, acknowledging Tuesday that the storm’s path is still uncertain.
Auriemma is part of a 15-person team pre-positioned in North Carolina. Should Hurricane Dorian devastate communities there with floodwaters, the Vermonters will be ready to help local emergency personnel.
“The one thing that keeps us going is knowing that there are people out there that need our help,” Auriemma told necn in an interview conducted via video conferencing from North Carolina. “We’re going to come down and we’re going to do the best we can, provide them the best customer service we can on the worst day of their life.”
The Vermont Task Force 1 Swift Water Rescue Team specializes in water emergencies and other treacherous situations, and has deployed to several disaster areas in recent years.
The team is made up of first responders representing the Vermont Division of Fire Safety, Colchester Technical Rescue, and fire departments from Burlington, Castleton, Hartford, Rutland, Springfield, Williston, and Lebanon, New Hampshire.
The group left for Florida this past weekend, but was rerouted to North Carolina, where the New Englanders have been training the past few days on skills like heat-related emergencies, boat operations, and how to use a drone in rescues.
“Hopefully, everybody will be safe and there won’t be any issues, but if something does happen, we’ll be ready for it and ready to help,” said Dep. Chief Scott Mangan of the Rutland Fire Department, who is a part of the deployment to North Carolina.
The group noted support of family members, the state, and neighbors is vital to helping them complete their mission successfully.
“We’re here, we’re prepared to do what we can to help those who need us, and we look forward to finishing up and getting home as soon as we can,” added task force member Capt. Shawn Hannux of the Hartford Fire Department, who is also in North Carolina.
There are other swift water rescue personnel staying behind, the office of Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said, in case there’s an emergency here at home.
“On behalf of all Vermonters, I wish them a successful mission and safe return,” Scott said in a written statement issued over the weekend. “We’ll be thinking of them, and all those who will be impacted by this storm.”