Palm Beach County emergency responders help out in the Keys

Posted at 7:09 PM, Sep 16, 2017

The Region 7 All Hazards Incident Management Team out of Palm Beach County is helping emergency officials in the Keys following Hurricane Irma's destruction.

“We were tired from our hurricane that we thought was so bad and then you come here and you go, 'Oh this is the real hurricane. This is where it hit,'" said Jeremy Hurd, public information officer for Region 7 All Hazards Incident Management Team.

27 team members, 20 who work for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue and seven who work for other agencies in the county, were sent down to the Keys on Tuesday. They will stay between 10 and 14 days.

"Everybody here is made of that same character that says it’s time for me to go do this and I got to go do it," Hurd said.

Hurd and several others are staying at the Monroe County Emergency Operations Center in Marathon. Other team members are staying in Islamorada.

The incident management team members are each extensively trained on the individual roles that make up an EOC. Hurd is trained as a public information officer. He is an EMS captain for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue.

“There’s 11 people up here who have lost everything who have been here working non-stop since, so we get to come in and be that relief for them," he said.

Hurd said he helps with press releases and has also assisted in communications to residents, who haven't had the ability to find out exactly what's going on due to the lack of cell service and power. He said he printed out information and distributed papers to people in the area.

Hurd said the team brought a communications trailer down, which allowed emergency responders to communicate with each other.

"Somehow they got everybody talking on radio channels through this," he said. "We dialed up. We got up. We were able to communicate from our emergency operations center all the way up to Islamorada all the way down to Key West."

The team members are also helping with estimates of Hurricane Irma's cost to cities and counties.

Hurd said members were able to get a generator hooked up to a Guy Harvey Outpost, saving $40,000 worth of food there. He said they then cooked it for people in the area who stayed for the storm.

He said Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker approved the deployment, allowing the team the ability to help out. 

"You’re helping people who lost everything just get back to their homes," he said.