State lawmakers applaud Ohio Task Force 1

COLUMBUS — Members of the region’s emergency response and heavy rescue unit, Ohio Task Force 1, were thrust into the spotlight Wednesday as state lawmakers thanked them for their service, specifically for their recent work in Surfside, Florida when a condo tower collapsed, killing 98 people. It was the deadliest building collapse in the nation’s history.

About two dozen of the Task Force’s 220 members received special recognition at the beginning of the Ohio Senate session and lawmakers rose to give them a standing ovation. Later, Task Force members said they are humbled by the praise and appreciative of the recognition.

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Dr. Randy Marriott, Medical Team Manager, Task Force 1, was with the emergency crew 20 years ago when they were called to respond to the 9-11 attack in New York City.  He said every disaster is unique. “They are all entirely different. The construction is different. The layout is different.  The victims are different. In Surfside unfortunately we were dealing with children, dealing with whole families, very much unlike 9-11, both have very specific stresses,” Marriott said.

With each disaster, the team learns more about how to respond and do its job better, according to Jack Reall, Task Force Leader. Like Marriott, Reall’s involvement with the Task Force goes back to the late 1990′s.

What is it like being in the spotlight?

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“We don’t do this to get any kind of recognition,” Reall said, “We do it because we love what we do, going out and helping these communities that have been impacted. This is always an honor to come into a building like this and to get recognition from our elected officials.” 

Reall said each mission is a learning event. “There’s a significant amount of learning. Think about traveling. You’re learning about the geography, the economics, the culture, stuff like that. But then you add the element of getting impacted by a disaster and you see how the community responds to it and that is all stuff that I bring back with me each time.

The most miles the Task Force has ever traveled enroute to a disaster was a trip to Miami, Florida but they must be ready to be deployed anywhere. “We’re still here, still prepared to meet the need, meet the challenge, be that at a tornado, be that a hurricane, a structural collapse. We’re here for whatever is asked of us,” Marriott said.