COLUMBIA, Mo. (KSDK) - Missouri Task Force 1 is on alert, preparing to deploy to Moore, Okla. if the need arises.
Asst. Chief Doug Westhoff of the Boone County Fire Protection District is program manager of Missouri Task Force 1. He has already been deployed to Oklahoma by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the deputy incident commander for the Federal Incident Support Team (IST).
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Westhoff will coordinate with local emergency officials and have assignments in place for the Tennessee, Texas, and Nebraska task forces currently enroute to Moore, Okla. Those units are expected to arrive early Tuesday morning.
Missouri Task Force 1 is one of 28 Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces in the United States. It is the fourth closest team and has rostered a full team of 80 people. If the call comes, the unit will deploy from the Boone County Fire Protection District headquarters within hours.
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The team of 80 consists of four search K-9s and over 100,000 pounds of special equipment. The team is fully self-supportive for the first 72 hours and prepares for 14-day assignments.
On Monday afternoon a large tornado touched down in Moore, a suburb of Oklahoma City. Officials confirm 51 people have died and the death toll is expected to climb.