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Polk County Fire Rescue chaplains support Surfside recovery

Chaplains work with firefighters and emergency medical personnel to provide emotional and spiritual guidance.
Credit: Polk County Fire Rescue

POLK COUNTY, Fla. — As efforts at the site of Surfside condo collapse have switched from rescue to recovery, chaplains from Polk County are offering some much-needed support.

Polk County Fire Rescue’s chaplains have been traveling to South Florida to support the first responders working day in and day out to recover people from the rubble.

Chaplain Murphy Hanley returned last week from a three-day deployment and Chaplains Sherri Grimes and Bill DeHart are serving multi-day deployments this week, according to a release from the county. 

“Our fellow firefighters requested our service in this tragedy, and we are proud to assist them in any way we can,” Polk Fire Chief Robert Weech said. “Our chaplains provide an invaluable service for the spiritual health and mental wellbeing of all firefighters. And in a circumstance, such as this in Miami, their services are in great demand.” 

The Polk County chaplains are working with firefighters and emergency medical personnel to provide emotional and spiritual support using a non-denominational approach, in order to promote tolerance and acceptance.

In the case of Surfside, they are right on scene, with hard hats at the ready to provide immediate support wherever needed. 

“There is nothing easy about responding to a tragedy like this,” Weech added. “That scene takes an emotional and physical toll on those first responders working it. I’m proud our chaplains can assist in comforting those who are working to bring closure to all the families affected by this.”

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