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Early Saturday, January 16, 80 members of New York’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, New York Task Force 1 (NY TF-1), loaded 20 tons of equipment into a military transport plane and flew to Haiti to assist with rescue operations in the aftermath of the January 12, 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Port-au-Prince.

The team got to work immediately. Working through the night, one shift rescued two men and a teenage girl from under a collapsed grocery store. The following day, a fresh team rescued a Haitian police officer from the crumbled remains of a police station. The team worked in shifts to ensure personnel were rested and ready to take over the demanding and technical work required to extract survivors from collapsed structures.

On January 19, a week after the initial earthquake, NY-TF 1 team members pulled an eight-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl from the rubble of a collapsed three-story structure. The children were severely dehydrated, but alive. They were rushed to the Israeli tent hospital for treatment.

NY-TF 1 is made up of firefighters, police officers, and paramedics from across the city. They were camped at the Port-au-Prince airport. The team members were completely self-sustaining, sleeping in tents they brought with them and operating on their own generators, portable showers, and food supplies.

The team was a part of an international force of 40 search and rescue teams from around the world, and more than 1,700 first responders. Together they rescued 132 individuals from collapsed buildings. NY-TF 1 was directly responsible for six of the saves.

NY-TF 1 returned home early Sunday, January 24. At a City Hall ceremony on January 26, Mayor Bloomberg honored team members with certificates of recognition.

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