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Indiana Task Force 1 home after 16-day deployment to Florida condo collapse

Everyone on the team was tested for COVID-19 upon their return home after several members tested positive for the virus before leaving Florida.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Task Force 1 returned to Indianapolis Friday after a 16-day deployment to assist the search efforts at the site of a condominium collapse in Florida.

Members of the team called the mission in Surfside, Florida one of the most challenging deployments in their history. The task force is made up of first responders from agencies across central Indiana.

Before they left for home, several members of the team had tested positive for COVID-19. As a precaution, all 80 members of the unit and six civilian drivers were tested for the virus when they got back to Indianapolis. They will be monitored for two weeks for symptoms of the virus.

The return also marked the end of service for one member of Indiana Task Force 1. 

"Eddie," an 11-year-old dog who has served the team for nine years, is retiring. He worked with handler Gary Hay on missions including the tornado in Henryville, Indiana, Hurricanes Sandy, Maria, Laura, Dorian and Gustav, as well as Tropical Cyclone Sally.

He was given a special treat at the homecoming before heading home to New Carlisle, Indiana.

Also honored Friday were administrative assistants Candace Harris and Mindy Tierney, whose husband was part of the deployment.

"It goes without saying that there is a massive amount of behind the scenes work that often goes unrecognized," IFD Battalion Chief Rita Reith said in a release.

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