UPDATE: September 1, 12 noon

Two Baltimore County Fire Department members working with a Federal Emergency Management Agency rescue task force are now assigned to the Angleton, Texas area, about 43 miles south of Houston.

Fire Lt. Byron Welker and Fire Apparatus Driver Operator Steve Yealdhall are assisting with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts as part of FEMA’s Pennsylvania Task Force #1. The task force has been conducting reconnaissance, search and rescue, transport and treatment and data collection.

Three BCoFD and one Health and Human Services personnel deployed  with MD1-DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) are assigned to various locations in the flood-stricken region. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

“The people in areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey are in for a very long and difficult recovery,” said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “We are glad that we could provide assistance and will continue to be responsive to requests for support.”

*** Editors: We have received word that personnel assigned to various FEMA task forces generally are not permitted to send photos and video back to their home agencies. If we receive images that have been approved for sharing, we will post to our social media platforms. 

Original release:

Five Baltimore County Fire Department personnel and one Health & Human Services employee are now deployed to flood-ravaged Texas in a variety of assignments.

Two BCoFD members -- Fire Lt. Byron Welker, a rescue specialist; and Fire Apparatus Driver Operator Steve Yealdhall, a hazmat specialist -- currently are in Katy, Texas, just west of Houston. They are assigned to boat operations as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Pennsylvania Task Force #1, a team of specially trained first responders based in Philadelphia.

Welker and Yealdhall are regularly assigned to BCoFD's Texas Fire Station, home of the County's Urban Search and Rescue team.

EMS Lt. Kevin Palmer and EMS Lt. Rick Blubaugh deployed last weekend with the MD1-DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) to help provide medical care to victims of Hurricane Harvey.  They are awaiting mission specific direction at this time.

DMAT provides medical care during disasters that overwhelm health care infrastructure.

Fire Capt. John Amrhein and Terry Sapp, Coordinator of Public Health Emergency Preparedness for the Department of Health and Human Services and an EMT, deployed yesterday with the MD1-DMAT.  They are engaged in initial briefings and awaiting missions in the region.

When disasters occur, FEMA organizes special task forces across the nation and selectively activates them. It also solicits aid from agencies across the country based on specific needs.

Baltimore County has a long history of providing resources in times of national emergency. Over the years, Baltimore County Fire Department members have responded as members of federal task forces and upon request to disasters including Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 attacks at Ground Zero in New York.

"Our hearts are with everyone affected by this unimaginable disaster," said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. "We are so grateful to be able to contribute to the recovery effort."