Elite NJ response team heads to Miami from Wall

NJ Task Force One heading south towards Florida to help with the Surfside condo collapse disaster on July 1 [COURTESY OF OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR]

WALL TOWNSHIP — An elite task force of New Jersey first responders departed from Wall Township last week, sending emergency services to Miami, Florida to help in the aftermath of the Surfside Condo collapse that has claimed the lives of over three dozen with hundreds still accounted for.

On June 30, the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management [NJOEM] announced that New Jersey’s Task Force One team would be one of 28 nationally from the National Urban Search & Rescue [US&R] Response System selected to travel to Florida to assist.

According to NJOEM, the team consists of 70 individuals, with 21 skilled personnel and 10 ground support personnel.


The team, according to NJOEM included “two crew carriers, three tractor-trailers, two box trucks, five F-450 crew trucks, two passenger vans, two K-9 units,  two utility terrain vehicles, and a fleet service truck.”

Six water rescue boats and a water support trailer were also deployed, OEM said. 

Glendola Fire Company’s own Joe Gerthard was one of the responders sent with the rescue team.

The full team departed from the Wall Township State Police facility on the Garden State Parkway early in the morning on July 1.

NJ Task Force One has also responded to other national emergencies, recently to Florida after Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and after Hurricane Michael in 2018.

NJ State Police Col. Patrick Callahan addressed his men and women on July 1 before the caravan of responders took off for Florida.

“The one thing that went through my mind when I saw that building collapse last week was that everybody who is here, wanted to be there,” Col. Callahan said in his address, published on Facebook.

“When that activation order came last night, I readily approved it knowing you would be ready to roll,” he said.

He told the responders to remain strong while they are down there in what could be a dangerous situation as well as one that can be mentally tolling.

“One thing I don’t want you to lose sight of is your health, physical and mental.This is going to be a tough mission. Take care of one another, keep one another safe,” he said.

The colonel emphasized the hope that the responders’ presence will bring the devastated families in Miami.

“You represent hope … You represent hope to every single family that’s waiting to hear about their loved ones,” he said.

“Go down there and do what you have to do, what you’re trained to do.”

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