NY Task Force One Returns from "Successful Mission" in Haiti

"An extraodinary mission"

By Erika Tarantal and Hasani Gittens
|  Monday, Jan 25, 2010  |  Updated 8:15 AM EDT
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NY Task Force One Returns Home from Haiti

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Leaders Joe Downey and Robert Lukash of NY Task Force One speak at JFK after returning from Haiti.

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NY Task Force One Returns Home from Haiti

The FEMA-sponsored Search and Rescue team, made up of 80 members of the NYPD and FDNY, arrived back in New York over the weekend.
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Precious lives were saved, six in total, thanks to New York Task Force One.

Now, the FEMA-sponsored urban search and rescue team, made up of 80 members of the NYPD and FDNY, has returned home from Haiti.

It was "an extraordinary mission that we took on we feel it was a successful mission,” said Joe Downey, Task Force Leader for FDNY.

TF1 members called their time in Haiti humbling.  The rescuers combed 50 square miles of devastated terrain in the week they were there, searching for any signs of life.

"Each area seemed it was poorer than the next area the people down there had very little to start with and now they have nothing,” said Downey.

Sunday, the same day the team arrived at Kennedy airport, Haiti felt the latest of more than 50 aftershocks since the January 12th disaster.

Today world leaders, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are expected to meet in Montréal to better coordinate relief efforts in Haiti.  Meanwhile, Haitian officials now estimate 150-thousand people have already been buried by the government, indicating the overall death toll could be even higher than previously thought. 

Over the past week and a half, each rescue out of the rubble offered a glimmer of hope.

With 20 tons of specialized equipment and canine units, the team from New York was trained to find even the faintest heartbeat.  They used motion detection devices to detect even the slightest movement.  Before they left, these rescuers were confident they saved everyone they could in the area they focused in on.

"Utilizing everything that we've learned here, our skills, enabled us to accomplish the mission at task,” said Robert Lukach, Task Force Leader for NYPD

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