LAYTON—As flood waters coursed through the streets of Houston last week, most Utahns watched the devastation from a distance. But one local paramedic went straight to the action when she was deployed as part of Utah Task Force 1 (UT TF-1).
Layton Fire Department Engineer/Paramedic Roxanne Bauman and her search canine Cole have been certified by FEMA as a Type 1 Live K-9 Search team and were called out to assist in the efforts.
“They left about 3 a.m. Friday and got there about 5 the next day,” said Layton Fire Chief Kevin Ward. “They’ll be doing boat pick up in the area and moving people to hospitals. Emergency services are so overwhelmed. She said they thought they were going to have to do a baby delivery in the street because it was taking the ambulances about an hour to arrive. But they made it to the hospital just fine.”
Ward said Bauman has been working closely with the California Task Force 5 and doing water rescues all day.
“These assignments are different as opposed to wild land fires,” he said. “Those are usually a 14-day deployment but in a time of disaster it can go on beyond two weeks.”
Ward said Bauman has been a paramedic with the department a long time. “She drives the engine and has been a part of the local rescue team in Davis County since it started,” he said. “A while ago she expressed interest in becoming a live search K-9 handler. She did all the training with the task force to become a contractor so she takes leave when she is deployed.”
Bauman and Cole moved up the ranks quickly,Ward said. “She got certified in California as a Type 2 then moved up to Type 1, which is the highest for a canine handler,” he said. “Both of them had to qualify though. It’s not just a one-person show. Cole is a black lab mix and they certified in April 2014 as Type 2 then achieved Type I in May 2014.”
Although the task force is separate from the department, Ward sees her training and experience as a benefit for them as well. “She’s part of the Davis County State Urban Search and Rescue Team too,” he said. “It’s a benefit to have a K-9 specialist with Cole. We’ve hooked her up with the local police on missing person cases and Cole has helped in drownings to pin point the scent of where the person went down. It’s a great experience for her and for our Davis County team it’s even better.”
Ward said the Task Force Leader reported that the team is making a big difference during this large-scale disaster. “All 28 of the FEMA Task Forces are committed to Texas,” he said. “This has not happened since the 9/11 disaster.”
Even though Bauman is technically on her own since the assignment doesn’t come from the department, Ward said they are very supportive. “The guys are stepping up to cover for her,” he said. “It’s an important mission she’s doing. It’s hard for her being away from her family.”