Tyndall AFB's Crisis Action Team assists in Texas search and rescue

TYNDALL AFB, Fla. (WJHG-WECP) - Tyndall Air Force Base is doing its part to help those in southeastern Texas.

NewsChannel 7 and Local 18 News got an inside look at the Crisis Action Team, also known as CAT, at Tyndall.

It's a group that provides support to active duty military forces that are assisting Texas and the response to Hurricane Harvey. Along with members of the Florida National Guard, these men and women are constantly in communication with their counterparts in Texas and elsewhere to get forces in the right location.

Lieutenant Colonel George Christoph says the Department of Defense brings unique capabilities, such as nighttime search and rescue with night vision goggles.

CAT first started paying attention to the storm two days before it made landfall. After they saw a category one forecast, the team started talking about preparing themselves.

"We started to reach out to Texas to let them know that we were here if they needed anything, and we started to work through our higher headquarters which is the United States northern command in Colorado Springs to let them know what we were doing," Lt. Col. Christoph said.

By Friday at noon, the team knew they had a big problem on their hands, based on the forecast. So they set up the crisis action team to be operational 24/7.

Lt. Col. Christoph says getting search and rescue efforts in there quickly was imperative.

David Fennell, the search and rescue program coordinator for Air Force Northern at Tyndall AFB, is in charge of bringing joint rescue forces together to provide resources from the department of defense (DoD) to the state of Texas.

"We coordinate all DoD component efforts that are being brought forth to Texas, those are being coordinated through this one office," Fennell said. "We coordinate the Air Force piece of everything that is brought in there, all the way to vehicles, civil engineering, all the way down to Porta Potties for disaster relief."

At this publication, Fennell's team within the Department of Defense has saved 227 lives in the area hit by Hurricane Harvey.

"That's the result of everybody working together," he said. "Which component, each federal agency working with the state. Those represent DoD active duty saves."