On Sunday, September 4, 2005 Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Tom Carr received a phone call from one of the senior chiefs in New Orleans confirming that the New Orleans Fire Department requested assistance through the State of Louisiana to the State of Maryland for firefighters and apparatus. Fire Chief Carr confirmed with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency that an EMAC (Emergency Mutual Assistance Compact) request for firefighters and apparatus was received from the City of New Orleans via the State of Louisiana. The specific request from Superintendent Chief Charles Parent of the New Orleans Fire Department was to have firefighters and apparatus from other states provide coverage so his personnel could have a respite. New Orleans firefighters had been working for eight days straight without a break and they needed to take care of their families and personal belongs since most of them had not seen their properties.
Fire Chief Tom Carr immediately summoned his senior MCFRS staff to Fire and EMS Headquarters to brief the senior chiefs on the request and to begin planning sending Montgomery County firefighters and apparatus to assist the New Orleans Fire Department. MCFRS initiated an Incident Management Team (IMT) at the Montgomery County Training Academy and began to put in to play a comprehensive deployment plan in twelve hours.
The deployment plan of 86 career and volunteer firefighters with fire and EMS apparatus, a Montgomery County Department of Works and Transportation driver and fuel truck, Montgomery County Sheriff's and Montgomery County Police Officers all converged at the Training Academy at 0500 hours to begin medical screening for deployment to New Orleans as part of the task force. The combined task force of firefighters, DPWT and law enforcement was the first its kind and appropriate for this specific 14 day mission.
Fire Chief Tom Carr recognized the potential security issues and reports of civil unrest in the New Orleans areas. Fire Chief Carr contacted Police Chief Tom Manger to arrange for the best tactical operational personnel from the County's Sheriff's and Police Department to accompany the Fire and Rescue firefighting task force. Fire Chief Carr also made contact with Director Art Holmes from the MCDPWT to arrange for a fuel truck (diesel and gas) to accompany the task force because of the scarce fuel commodity in the Gulf Region and the Country at the time.
Members from the County's Fire and Rescue Service, the County Sheriff and Police Departments and DWPT were selected for the deployment. The medical screening began immediately as these personnel arrived at the Training Academy. They were greeted by the members of the MCFRS Family Support Network and their personal information and car keys were bagged and tagged.
At 0900 hours on Monday, September 5, 2005 the combined Montgomery County Firefighting Task Force departed from Montgomery County to the City of New Orleans on their mission to provide a respite for the New Orleans firefighting personnel. The weather was very hot and the task force traveled by land with fire apparatus, a fuel truck and law enforcement vehicle. An additional group of EMS units from MIEMS also traveled with the task force. In all, there were about 30 vehicles in the task force. The trip took a grueling 36 hours but there was significant assistance along the routes with police escorts from state line to state in most of the states. As the task force neared New Orleans it was becoming very evident that there was widespread damage and destruction. Almost all of the trees were down or gone and there was water everywhere and the majority of the areas were desolate.