INDIANAPOLIS – Members of Indiana Task Force 1 returned home Monday after completing their assignment in Hawaii.
Seventy members of the group headed to Maui County nearly two weeks ago to help with search and rescue efforts in the wake of devastating wildfires that have killed at least 115 people.
Indiana Task Force 1 assisted in recovery, search and victim identification. Members received their demobilization orders over the weekend.
Jay Settergren, the Indiana Task Force 1 leader, talked about the physical toll he and other participants felt while they were stationed in Hawaii helping those affected by the wildfires.
“The physical part is also a huge drain on our guys when you are working 14, 15, 16-hour days in the heat and it’s just nonstop,” said Settergren. “Our guys did an outstanding job like they always do. They’re very professional, very hardworking… I couldn’t be more proud.”
Settergren said he felt satisfied with the assistance the task force provided during their time there.
“When we go do these, you want to be able to help someone and that’s what we were trying to do,” said Settergren. “When you go and some of these deployments you feel less of a help like you didn’t accomplish as much but this one, I think we did. This was one I feel like we were able to help a lot of people move into that next phase.”
The task force includes trauma doctors, nurses, structural engineers and firefighters. It responds to all manner of disasters, including tornadoes, hurricanes and flooding.
Brandon Kleine, who was deployed as a safety officer as part of Indiana Task Force 1, said he had never witnessed such overwhelming losses before he deployed to Hawaii.
“This was definitely something that I haven’t seen in my 14 years on task force. You see what people have lost when they’ve lost everything,” said Keine. “I mean just everything….. These people had nothing left. Nothing.”