Pechanga Fire Department search and rescue specialists supply aid in Puerto Rico

TEMECULA – As Puerto Rico continues to lack of power, food, water and other resources after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria, Riverside County sent 27 rescue specialists late Saturday, Sept. 23, to assist with safety and humanitarian missions.

Two of Pechanga Fire Department’s personnel, engineers Hector Tamayo and Josh Tegardine, joined the other 25 task force members and flew out of March Air Reserve Base near Riverside. They landed in Puerto Rico early Sunday morning. The crew is conducting search and rescue efforts on the west side of Puerto Rico.

The urban search and rescue team, Task Force 6, is based in Riverside. They flew out on a C5 cargo plane along with several other teams. The crew consists of logistics, rescue specialists, K9s, medical specialists, hazmat specialists and communications specialists. Engineers Tamayo and Tegardine, along with the entire team, are highly trained to respond to Federal Emergency Management Agency emergencies and are called up as needed. The team will be assigned to the island indefinitely.

Earlier in September, the Pechanga tribe sent $25,000 to the American Red Cross for rescue, food, shelter and medical expenses for those severely affected in Texas by Hurricane Harvey. Another of its rescue specialists, trained in disaster response, deployed with a team of 14 to assist in recovery and aid missions near Houston.

“This is a devastating time for the people of Puerto Rico. Pechanga has always strived to support those in need through various fundraisers and charities and now through the direct support of rescue relief efforts,” Mark Macarro, Pechanga tribal chairman, said. “We hope this support can bring at least a small sense of comfort to victims of this latest natural disaster.”

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians is a federally recognized Indian tribe in the Temecula Valley. The Pechanga tribe directly employs over 5,000 people and owns and operates the award-winning Pechanga Resort & Casino, the largest gaming facility in the western United States.

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