Poudre firefighters, K-9s return from Philippines search & rescue missions

After two separate deployments spanning almost a month, Poudre Fire Authority firefighters Jim Houck and Estaban Guzman have returned home from the typhoon-wrecked city of Tacloban, the capital of the Philippine province of Leyte.

Houck, Guzman and Houck’s two rescue- and recovery-trained dogs helped locate hundreds of casualties of Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Phillipines in early November. At least 6,100 people were killed in the massive storm.

Help was still desperately needed at the end of the firefighters’ first deployment and so the mayor of Tacloban contacted Poudre Fire chief Tom DeMint and arranged for the men and dogs to return. Within six days, Houck and Guzman were back in Tacloban, working long days to assist the region that had seen so much devastation.

While on location the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs interviewed Houck in hopes of learning how they were able to operate successfully and to gain his assistance with further planning for recovery operations.

Firefighters Houck and Guzman were deployed as a team through the non-profit Global Disaster Immediate Response Team. Global DIRT provides all-volunteer rapid response in disaster-stricken parts of the world. Their work includes medical, communications and urban search and rescue services.

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