|Four Chula Vista firefighters and Cody, the department’s search and rescue dog, have been mobilized as part of the nation’s emergency response to tropical storm Gustav. Chula Vista’s firefighters are members of the county’s USAR (Urban Search and Rescue) California Task Force 8, which has dispatched 34 emergency responders and four search and rescue dogs to the southern United States.
USAR Team 8’s responders include firefighters from Chula Vista, El Cajon, San Marcos, San Diego, Encinitas, and La Mesa. Four canines and their handlers are among those deployed. Twelve team members left Sunday morning by ground to transport all of the emergency equipment across the U.S. Monday night, the remaining 22 team members flew to a staging area in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Chula Vista contingent includes: Battalion Chief Jeff Peter, Rescue Team Manager Ron Hopkins, and Firefighter Linda D’Orsi and Cody. Fire Captain Harry Muns is already in Shreveport, Louisiana where he’s been assigned a supervisory role in planning and organizing emergency operations for all 19 of the nation’s task forces.
The local team responding to Gustav is smaller than the group sent to Katrina. “Because we’re smaller and have less equipment to move around, we’ll be quicker on our feet,” said Peter.
All Chula Vista team members have experience responding to large- scale emergencies. Peter was on scene at the World Trade Center, D’Orsi went to Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina, and Hopkins was assigned to the Northridge earthquake.