By Karen Morfitt

LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Preparations are underway on Florida’s east coast for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian, and a Colorado emergency team will be helping out. Ryan Thomas is a Captain with Poudre Fire Authority in Fort Collins and one of 16 firefighters from eight agencies being deployed as part of Colorado Task Force 1.

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“The first thought is making sure we can take care of our families letting them know we are going and then going down there and taking care of other people’s families,” he said.

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CO-TF 1 left for Florida Friday night. Dorian was upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane as the team was leaving their headquarters. The storm is expected to remain a Category 4 hurricane when it makes landfall on Tuesday.

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Mike Parker is the training manager for the task force that gets deployment orders from FEMA.

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“The main thing we are going down for now is water rescue, the team we have put together are all water rescue specialists,” Parker said.

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For many of the crew, it’s a routine they’ve been through before, having deployed to other serious disasters including Hurricanes Florence and Katrina as well as 9/11.

Thomas says each assignment strengthens their response.

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“Our training is better than it’s ever been before and that’s just a nod to the task force, our equipment is better. And these are all based off of lessons we’ve learned in past hurricanes,” he said.

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With no real idea what to expect, the team hit the road.

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Thomas says that uncertainty is just part of the job, and should the worst happen, they’re focused on helping as many people as possible.

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“The thing we are there for is lives,” Thomas said.

Karen Morfitt


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