Firefighters on standby for hurricane - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Firefighters on standby for hurricane

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VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) -

Firefighters around south Georgia are on standby to help with recovery from Hurricane Irene.

More than 30 firefighters who are part of the Georgia Search and Rescue Team are ready to hit the road at a moment's notice.

Hurricane Irene is already stirring up winds and waters along the east coast. When she makes landfall, the Georgia Search and Rescue Team Task Force 2 is ready to respond.

"Most likely we'd be doing house to house searches for individuals trapped inside," said Ken Gallagher, the GSAR Task Force leader.

Thirty three firefighters from 10 departments are prepared to leave immediately if they're called upon.

Blake Whitehead is one of those firefighters ready to save lives. He's trained in rope rescue, trench rescue, structure collapse and confined space training.

"It's definitely a rush the stuff we get to do," said Whitehead. "I'm sort of an adrenaline junkie that's how firefighters are. I enjoy the career. I love the training."

He and some other members of the GSAR team were involved in this rescue of workers trapped in a water tower in Clinch County in 2009.

"I was at the bottom of the riser," said Whitehead. "I was assisting a gentleman making sure he wasn't bumping into the side of the tower and assisting him out of the bottom of the pipe."

Gallagher says it's not likely they'll go based on what the weather is showing and since the weaker side of the hurricane, the western side is expected to strike.

"It's unlikely we'll go but GEMA wanted to be able to offer assistance if requested from North Carolina," said Gallagher. "We probably would not go any further than that. Just if it were a category four making landfall it's a possibility they could run out resources quickly."

The frequent training prepares them for any kind of rescue.

If called, the GSAR team will take their truck filled with specialized gear for rescues and assistance.


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