More South Florida firefighters head north to help with Hurricane Michael aftermath

POMPANO BEACH, Fla. – More first responders headed north Wednesday to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. 

"I'm a little nervous," Sunrise firefighter Daniel Gamiotea said. "This is the first time I've gone outside of our area to help, so I'm nervous and excited."

Even Gamiotea, who is a seven-year veteran of Sunrise Fire Rescue, said this deployment is not what he's used to. 

"I got the call at four in the morning to set up and come. So I left my wife and my two kids at home," he said. 

Gamiotea is one of 39 first responders from South Florida heading to the Panhandle Wednesday to help people facing Hurricane Michael. 

"We are sending two sets of strike teams," Sunrise Fire Rescue Chief John McNamara said. "One is called a rescue strike team, made up of five rescue companies. The second is an engine strike team, made up of five engine companies."

The firefighters say disaster response like this comes with its own challenges. 

"You don't know the area and, obviously, the destruction, so the maps -- it'll be a little difficult dealing with that stuff. And also working with other departments that are already up there from other parts of the state or other states, so that part's going to be a little difficult. But we'll make it work," Gamiotea said. 

While life in South Florida now gets put on hold for this team, they say they didn't hesitate to help.

"It also shows a real collaboration of the fire rescue agencies throughout the state and agreeing to this state-wide emergency response type of plans, because there's not one agency that can handle this kind of a disaster," McNamara said. 

About the Author: