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Left in Missouri spotted an interesting tidbit in the Missourian – the Missouri-based Urban Search and Rescue Task Force will be deployed to Minnesota for the GOP Convention, rather than the Gulf Coast for search and rescue after Hurricane Gustav hits (and Hanna, too.)

The Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces are highly trained and FEMA-certified first-responders capable of providing emergency medicine, disaster relief, and search and rescue operations. Each task force is organized into two teams of 31 individuals, and enough equipment and supplies to last the entire task force 5 days are pre-assembled and ready to ship out within hours of being notified.

According to a commenter at Left in Missouri, deploying them to Minnesota rather than Louisiana is no big deal, because there are 28 task forces total from around the country, and at least some of these are being deployed to the Gulf. Besides, there should be some units held in reserve, and the Missouri task force can always deploy after the convention if needed. Well, I’m hardly an expert on disaster response, but resources deployed across the country and given other responsibilities can hardly be called “held in reserve.”

Missouri is one of three states closest to the area in Gustav’s path that has a task force, and by FEMA’s own standard operating procedure the three closest task forces are supposed to be deployed. So why send a team from Missouri to the GOP convention, instead of from Minnesota or Wisconsin or Illinois?  

Apparently, those three states don’t have search and rescue task forces. Neither does any state bordering Minnesota. And as the article mentions, the closest task force, the one from Nebraska, is unavailable due to “staffing issues.” Wonder how many of FEMA’s emergency response personnel are unavailable due to “staffing issues?” Me too.

By the way, it’s one thing for McCain to show he cares more than he did 3 years ago when he was eating birthday cake with Bush while New Orleans drowned. It’s another thing to tie up resources by grandstanding.