Upon authorization by Hot Springs City Manager David Frasher, Fire Chief Ed Davis has deployed the Hot Springs Fire Department Water Rescue Team on a mission to assist flood victims in South Texas. The four-member team departed Hot Springs at 9:57 this morning.
The deployment was in response to a request received Tuesday evening from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of Texas. The request followed an inventory and condition query received on Monday concerning the status of HSFD’s rescue boat and the department’s ability to deploy the craft to Houston if necessary. The Hot Springs firefighters will be assigned to the Arkansas Boat Task Force that will stage together prior to assignment to the Texas flood zones. Once deployed to an incident, the firefighters are capable of performing a multitude of different tasks in the relief effort. They are equipped with a four-wheel drive pickup truck, a 15.5-foot Zodiac rescue craft and a complement of rescue equipment.
The firefighters are among the city’s best trained water rescue specialists. Each was chosen for their unique qualifications in small boat rescue operations, emergency medicine and water rescue. A fourth Incident Command specialist was also detailed to the team to provide logistical support and coordination with the Texas Incident Command System.
The team will provide services for up to two weeks in the Texas area, with all deployment costs funded by the United States government. Training Officer Ty Farris, safety officer and ranking officer of the deployment, will coordinate and support the operations of the three man-boat crew. The boat crew is composed of Lieutenant Kenny Talbert, paramedic and swift water technician; Driver Ricky Ilenfeld, EMT and swift water technician; and Firefighter Blake Harmon, EMT and swift water technician. “These firefighters who will be manning the boat are all accomplished water rescuers,” stated Davis. “They will serve the people of Texas in the same exemplary manner they serve the citizens of Hot Springs. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”
“Our team will represent Hot Springs well and help some folks who really need it,” Frasher added.