By Jennifer Glickel
CITY HALL — Mayor Michael Bloomberg recognized the NYPD/FDNY urban search and rescue team sent to assist earthquake relief efforts in Haiti at a City Hall ceremony on Tuesday.
New York Task Force One, composed of specialized personnel from the NYPD and FDNY, returned home Sunday after spending a week in Haiti helping to rescue victims of the earthquake that rocked the country on Jan. 12.
"We are glad to have the members of our Urban Search and Rescue Team, who worked on the front lines of the global rescue effort in Haiti, back home, safe and sound," Bloomberg said. "There's an awful lot of work ahead in Haiti, and an awful lot of mourning, but today, we thought it was important to recognize the members of Task Force One, who've made us proud once again."
Within hours of arriving in Haiti on Jan. 16, the team pulled three live victims from the rubble of a collapsed grocery store in Port-au-Prince. Throughout the team's week-long deployment in the battered city, New York's firefighters and police officers participated in six rescue missions.
"Six survivors out of thousands lost may not seem significant, but I think it's fair to say, to the six people and their loved ones it really means everything," the mayor said.
Lieutenant Bill Redding, a member of the search and rescue team, eloquently explained his experience in Haiti by citing a Winston Churchill quote.
"'To every person comes a time in their life when they're tapped on the shoulder and asked to do something unique and specific to their talents. What a shame if that moment finds them unprepared for what would've been their finest hour,'" Redding quoted loosely.
"Last week this team was tapped on the shoulder and, in my vision, it was their finest hour to date," Redding said.