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07/12/2011

TOP STORY: Tampa's Rapid Response Team prepares for hurricane season

Tampa's Rapid Response Team prepares for hurricane season
Tampa's Rapid Response Team prepares for hurricane season
Tampa's Rapid Response Team prepares for hurricane season
Tampa's Rapid Response Team prepares for hurricane season

With hurricane season underway, members of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE's) Tampa Rapid Response Team (RRT) are taking needed steps to make sure they are ready at a moment's notice.

As the name suggests, the primary mission of the RRT is to rapidly deploy during natural and manmade disasters, as well as emergency situations, when other federal, local or state agencies request ICE assistance. During those times, the RRT provides disaster relief services to ICE employees, protects ICE facilities, and assists with general law enforcement and security support to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal, state and local agencies.

Tampa's RRT, one of 15 ICE teams, is comprised of Homeland Security Investigations special agents whose wide skill set includes small engine operation and maintenance, lifeguard or water safety instructor certification, technical/electrical knowledge, orienteering, map reading, navigation experience, and everything in between.

Historically, ICE RRTs have deployed to hurricanes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes. The teams are operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are always prepared to deploy to an affected area within 12 to 24 hours.

Tampa Special Agent in Charge Susan McCormick said the work of these RRTs is invaluable; and that they truly must be ready for anything at just a moment's notice. RRT deployments may occur at any time within or outside the Tampa area, but deployment is especially common this time of year.

"With the hurricane season now in full swing, our rapid response team members are poised to respond swiftly to a variety of emergency situations both here and abroad," she said.

The Tampa office has procured a large quantity of emergency preparedness equipment.

They have enough food, water, and personnel hygiene supplies to sustain an estimated field force of 27 RRT members for nearly two weeks before needing additional supplies.

"In our region, that often means responding to areas devastated by hurricanes, but we are also prepared to deploy nationwide - in 24 hours or less - to any natural or manmade disaster and provide immediate relief and assistance," said McCormick.