LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Lexington firefighter is back home after spending nearly two weeks searching for victims at the site of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida.
Firehouse Station 3 Captain Ryan Hogsten managed the Ohio Task Force 1 deployment to Surfside on June 30. The Ohio Task Force 1 has been deploying to disasters since 1998.
"I was not a responder to 9/11 but the training we set up in the years after that was designed for these types of collapses," said Hogsten.
He says they were put straight to work as soon as they arrived, with the main job of assisting wherever they were needed.
"The portion that did not collapse, they had demolition crews and about a 10 or 11, come in and remove the rest of that building," Hogsten said. "They 'control collapsed' that. So, we were able to search through it all. The delayering process is exactly what it sounds -- we take the top layer off, we go the next layer, so on and so forth, and going and going through. So, we had some interesting troubles that we had to get through."
Through the mental and physical tolls, he and his team pushed through to help families gain closure.
"Just because I put on a uniform doesn't make me not be a human," Hogsten said. "You know, I still have human feelings I still have the same feelings as everybody does. So, you know that you run through the gamut of emotions on that, you know, thinking of the people that are inside there and we want to make closure for the families."
Hogsten says he's grateful to have been able to help and more than willing to do it again.
"I've been trained that way and that's this fire department and the Ohio Task Force 1, which has given me amazing opportunities to go around the country, and to help people and that's an amazing feeling," said Hogsten.
Even though the team was welcomed home with a hero's welcome, Hogsten says he was just doing his job.
"We want to help people. That's what we're trained for, that's what we signed up for and we just want to make sure that that are OK. When they're in a time of need, they call us, and it's an honor to be called," said Hogsten.