Urban Search and Rescue teams get $10M boost in Governor’s 2022 budget
Knapp's last assignment was as Command Post Incident Commander at the site of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse in Surfside. Ninety-eight people died in the collapse. Image via AP.

Florida's eight teams were instrumental in rescue efforts at the Surfside condominium collapse last June.

Gov. Ron DeSantisFreedom First Budget would provide a different kind of liberty: The freedom to be rescued when disaster strikes.

DeSantis included in his proposed budget, released Thursday, $10 million for Urban Search and Rescue teams to fortify disaster response.

Search and rescue teams were front and center this summer as teams scrambled to rescue survivors from the rubble of the Surfside condominium collapse in South Florida. But teams also serve as part of the first responders who are on the scene throughout the state when hurricanes hit and are deployed to other parts of the country to assist in various rescue missions.

The $10 million boost won high praise from Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled … ” Patronis tweeted Thursday morning. “That’s critical funding for training and equipment. Thank you, Governor! This means a lot to these heroes and it makes our communities safer.”

The Surfside disaster — which included around the clock rescue efforts for a full week — brought in all eight search and rescue teams with 370 team members from the four corners of the state, according to reports. Florida rescuers were joined by similar teams from Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., state records from Patronis’ office show.

Frank Collins III, Patronis’ deputy, also praised the $10 million in funding for the teams.

“This is a big deal,” he tweeted.

The Miami-Dade Search and Rescue Team has won praise as “the most elite” of its kind. Its members have worked around the world, searching for survivors in the rubble of explosions, earthquakes and the collapsed twin towers in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“You never want this to happen anywhere,” Sen. Marco Rubio told NPR as the search was underway at the collapsed Surfside condo. “But we are blessed in this community to have literally the best people in the world in Urban Search and Rescue.”

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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