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Colorado Springs Firefighter reflects on the recovery mission in Surfside

Posted at 5:52 AM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 09:29:34-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — For more than two weeks crews have crawled through the piles of debris, that used to be the Champlain Towers south, in Surfside, Florida. This type of work is grueling; Physically and mentally.

A local firefighter is giving some perspective on these types of missions. Lieutenant Aaron McConnellogue has been at the Colorado Springs Fire Department for 28 years. He's also part of the Colorado Task Force One, which is a team that often gets called out to disaster sites, like the one in Surfside.

Lieutenant McConnellogue says when the task force is called upon, they have about four hours to be on the road and get to the disaster site. This team is made up of people who are trained in rescue operations, handling hazardous materials, and there are also structural and medical experts among them.

Depending on what type of disaster it is, the Lieutenant says they are capable of managing so much. News5 asked him how do you prepare for a rescue like this? The Lieutenant says it's all about the training.

We are definitely mentally prepared just from our day-to-day operations," McConnellogue explained. "I could say without being there that I could only imagine the challenges those individuals are facing now; Moving from more of a rescue phase to more of a recovery phase. It's a very tedious thing and mentally challenging," he said.

McConnellogue says he has never seen anything like the collapse in Florida. The use of chaplains is probably going to be so important for the men and women searching through the debris.

Lieutenant McConnellogue says he and his teammates have not been called upon to go to Surfside, but they are on standby.