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Emergency response teams from Colorado leave to help with Hurricane Florence

DENVER -- Colorado Task Force 1 urban search and rescue is packing up and shipping out to meet Hurricane Florence head-on.

The task force responds to disasters around the country and around the world.

The group is made up from 28 public and private agencies in Colorado.

Every mission is different and Hurricane Florence is no exception.

“Anything is possible. We could be spending a lot of time doing a wide area search on dryland looking for victims. Or we could be deploying in boats and actually doing rescues via boat," said Cheryl West, Colorado Task Force 1 hazmat commander.

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The last thing a rescuer wants to have happen is to become the one being rescued. Avoiding hazards in a dangerous environment is a top priority.

"What is in the air? Do we need to wear respiratory masks, respiratory protection to keep particulates out of our respiratory system, or is the air clean enough? And we have to worry about contaminants on the skin," West said.

Thirty-two Red Cross volunteers from Colorado and Wyoming prepared to leave on the 1,500-mile trek east as well.

“It’s all about boots on the ground [from] across the United States doing everything we can to make sure we have the correct number of people and resources ready to go," Andrea Carlson of the American Red Cross said.

Task force 1 and the Red Cross group left Tuesday, and will remain deployed as long as they are needed.