As the country experiences a day of recovery and prepares for an unsure future, the city of Madison is planning security changes and volunteer rescue efforts.
The Madison Fire Department is standing ready to provide any needed assistance in New York City. Approximately 20 Madison firefighters have volunteered to assist with relief efforts at the World Trade Center.
Firefighters had their bags packed in anticipation to leave early Wednesday morning, but were asked by New York City fire officials to delay their departure because of the flood of volunteers currently assisting.
“We’ve been asked to wait because of the large number of firefighters already on the scene,” said Joe Conway, president of Firefighters Local 311. “They want to concentrate on utilization of the Urban Search and Rescue teams already on site.”
Ryan Mulcahy, assistant to Mayor Sue Bauman, said he thought the MFD would most likely be needed in New York City in about a week.
“They’ll probably be called on in a week or two when their main assignment will be helping with body recovery efforts,” Mulcahy said.
Fire Chief Debra Amesqua agreed to provide a MFD vehicle to transport the volunteers and their firefighting equipment to New York City.
“Like all Americans, members of the Madison Fire Department are eager to do whatever we can to help at this extraordinary and extraordinarily difficult moment,” Amesqua said.
“We’ve found a way to symbolize the shared bond we feel with emergency personnel at ground zero of this awful tragedy.”
Bauman said she supports Madison volunteers’ efforts.
“I’m proud of Madison’s firefighters who are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to deal with this catastrophe,” Bauman said.
Accordingly, each Madison firefighter made arrangements with co-workers to fill in for them while they are in New York. As a result, the fire department’s daily staffing level of 62 will not be affected in their absence.
In response to a request from its national organization, the local American Red Cross Badger Chapter is also sending trained disaster relief workers to help victims in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
At this point, the Badger Chapter has committed three local volunteers and has helped to coordinate 11 volunteers throughout the state, all of whom will be providing mental health and health services support.
Additional trained volunteers remain on standby.
The Dane County Regional Airport is also in a reserved state of operation.
The airport is open, but no flights are departing or arriving until further notice from the FAA.
“Right now it’s up to the airlines and whenever the FAA lifts its ban,” said Ron Riesinger, operations supervisor at the Dane County airport. “All airport personnel [are] here and available.”
Officials at the airport first believed they would be sending flights as early as 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, but the FAA postponed that time until further notice.
“There was some word that diverted flights would be departing from Dane County, but there has been no word on commercial flights,” Riesinger said.
The airport has increased security to meet tougher security requirements, but it cannot comment on them at this point.