MIAMI – The City of Miami is sending firefighter medics to the Bahamas even before the federal government is asking them to, so they can start to help those in need following Hurricane Dorian.
At a press conference Thursday morning, Mayor Francis Suarez announced the city is funding a total of about 50 first responders who are all part of local urban search and rescue teams to head over to the areas hit hardest by Dorian in the next few days.
They will not be there as an official federal search and rescue operation, but will only be wearing City of Miami Fire Department uniforms.
If they are eventually called upon by the federal government to help out, they will already be in place to do so.
"Anytime we, as emergency responders, see people in need it's frustrating for us because we know what they're going through," City of Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said. "That could be here in the Bahamas. That could be across the world in China. When we see suffering, we've experienced it firsthand, and that it in essence is frustrating for us."
The city also announced at the news conference a partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line and the RAV Bahamas hurricane relief fund to send over all of the donations they’ve collected from people in Miami.
There is already a ship sitting at Port Miami waiting to head out Thursday night.
City officials said they will be paying for the operation out of their own budget this month and there will be no additional cost to taxpayers.
If U.S. officials eventually activate the medics as part of the federal operation, the federal government will take over the cost.