Ashland firefighter helps in building collapse search effort

Todd Selvage is a member of Ohio Task Force One but also works for the Ashland Fire Department.
Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 10:05 PM EDT
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ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) - Members of Ohio Task Force One headed to Surfside, Florida, last week to help in search and rescue efforts after the condo collapse on June 24. Among the team members is Todd Selvage, who joined the task force in 2018 and also works for the Ashland Fire Department.

“It’s stressful, it’s definitely emotionally draining, physically draining but it’s also kind of relieving as well,” he said. “Relieving as in we’ve got to help out some families.”

As a HAZMAT and recovery specialist, the work has been challenging and difficult. On Wednesday, their efforts switched from rescue to recovery mission. The move was marked by a touching moment of silence.

“There’s a lot of things that bring you down to the real world, but that definitely was heartfelt on everybody,” said Selvage. “Kind of brought you down to, this is why we’re here. We’re here to help the community, help the family, whether it’s our community or not.”

The 82-person crew from Ohio Task Force Ohio is working rotating 12-hour shifts. They’re being housed on a cruise ship. Tropical Storm Elsa moved through the area and caused some minor delays when workers were called off due to lightning, strong winds, heavy rain and a tornado warning.

“There’s been period throughout the day the last couple of days they did have to take us off and put us in shelters,” he said.

He says they are being taken care of and first responders have access to group support, therapy pets and counseling, as well as other resources.

“Makes you a little humble. Brings you back down to earth a little bit. Also lets you feel a little good that all of your hard work is helping somebody out and bringing closure to families.”

His crew will likely be onsite for another week before they return home and switch with another group.

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