INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Task Force 1 has been activated for search and rescue operations in Kentucky.
A total of 45 personnel traveled to Mayfield, Kentucky Saturday afternoon after an overnight tornado caused significant damage in that community.
The team has been assigned to conduct search and rescue operations at the candle factory known as Mayfield Consumer Products located on Industrial Drive in Mayfield.
Their first briefing of the day will occur at 9 a.m. ET before they begin work.
They arrived near Mayfield Saturday night around 10:45 p.m. CT and reported no issues on the road during travel. Team members were able to get to bed around 11:30 p.m. and had an early wake up call Sunday morning.
The crew includes four coach drivers, two mechanics, 15 members of the Indianapolis Fire Department, four IMPD officers and eight civilian team members. The remaining team members are first responders from the following departments:
- Speedway FD
- Wayne Twp. FD
- Avon FD
- Bargersville FD
- Crown Point FD
- Vincennes FD
- Plainfield FD
- Fishers FD
- Decatur Twp. FD
- Noblesville FD
- Greenwood FD
- Zionsville FD
- Lafayette FD
- Carmel FD
- Lebanon FD
- Columbus FD
The team is taking everything from listening devices to fiber-optic cameras as well as three dogs to help them find anyone who has died or survivors located in the rubble.
"Helping to make families whole and reunite them helps make the hard days easier," said Ryan Cusack, a canine search specialist with INTF1. "It's definitely not an easy job it wears on you emotionally and physically but knowing the end result is families reunited and their day improves; that's what makes this easier to do."
Before their departure, members of the team said they were hoping for the best.
"Hopefully we will have not a lot of people who have suffered and perished through this event and will be recovered alive and be reunited with their families," said Tom Neal, the program manager for INTF1.
Along the way, the team made a pitstop at a Culver's in Illinois. INTF1 is a big group but the team at Culver's was up for a challenge. INTF1 tweeted that the employees diverted from their normal routine to take 49 food orders over the phone, something they don't typically allow.
The task force's meals were cooked to perfection and with full stomachs, they got back on the road to Mayfield.
As of Saturday afternoon, the team doesn't have a return date. They plan to stay as long as Kentucky needs them.
Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and activated the Kentucky National Guard early Saturday.
Beshear said he fears tornadoes have killed 70 people in the state and the death toll may exceed 100.
Kentucky State Police Trooper Sarah Burgess said search and rescue teams were still going through the rubble Saturday but didn’t yet have a number for how many have died.
Members of TF 1 were most recently deployed in Louisiana in late August and early September following Hurricane Ida.
They also assisted at the site of the condo collapse in Surfside, north of Miami, Florida in July.