COLUMBIA — Missouri Task Force 1 will be leaving for Minneapolis-St. Paul on Sunday to standby in case of an emergency at the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled for Sept. 1 through Sept. 4, according to a news release from the Boone Country Fire Protection District.
The task force, a division of the Fire Protection District, is one of 28 FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces and was chosen by FEMA based on a pre-determined geographical deployment system. The system is based on how close a task force is to the event. Minnesota does not have such a task force, Division Chief Gale Blomenkamp said.
The task force will be deployed because there is a higher-than-normal probability of terrorist activity. They will also respond to any natural or structural disasters that may occur.
"The task force will be in a staging location near the event site for a quick response should a disaster situation arise," said Boone County Fire Chief Steve Paulsell.
Nebraska's task force was originally slated to go, but experienced staffing problems. Missouri Task Force 1 was chosen next.
The Democratic National Convention was able to use Colorado Task Force 1 in Denver this week.
Missouri's task force includes 80 personnel and four search and rescue dogs. They will be carrying 100,000 pounds of rescue, medical and support equipment.
"The team will remain ready to respond at a moment's notice, however the team will also use this time to conduct training exercises utilizing the National Response Plan, Global Positioning Systems, and a myriad of other tools," Paulsell said.
Missouri Task Force 1 is the only Urban Search and Rescue Team being deployed for this event.
The task force will leave at 8 a.m. from the Boone County Fire Protection District Headquarters, located at 2201 I-70 Drive N.W. They will return to Missouri on Sept. 6.
Some of the specialists on the task force include fire and rescue personnel, emergency trauma physicians, structural engineers, hazardous materials technicians, communications specialists, technical and canine search specialists, heavy equipment operators, logistics specialists, emergency nurses and paramedics, emergency planning specialists and management personnel.