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First Response Team of America First on Scene at Disasters

Tad Agoglia is one of the finalists in CNN's Heroes Award competition. He started a team that works to help those affected by disaster. KSMU's Michele Skalicky caught up with Agoglia who was visiting Springfield this week...
Eighteen months ago, Tad Agoglia saw a need and didn’t hesitate to step up and fill it. The Manhatten Native’s company, Disaster Recovery Solutions, was hired to clean up debris anywhere from a month to two months after hurricanes hit the US coast."I decided that there was probably a need to open up roads, and, at the time, I had cranes and cat wheel loaders, and I decided to respond to the next major storm, which was a tornado in Kansas to open up roads, and that was my first experience at being at a disaster within the first critical days, and, not only was there a need to open up roads, but there was a need for so much more."That led Agoglia to form the First Response Team of America. The 5-member team responds to disasters as soon as they strike and meets the needs of the critical phase—during the 1st 3 weeks. In the last 18 months, the team has responded to 20 of the largest disasters in America starting with the tornado in Greensburg, KS. They’ve helped with wildfires in California, floods in Oregon, Washington and the Midwest and tornadoes in several Midwestern and Southern states. And they do it all for free.The team uses specialized equipment to do things like provide power to nursing homes that have lost electricity, perform water rescues and pump water from low-lying areas."I also have off-road motocross bikes that are equipped with GPS coordinators and satellite phones that can follow the path of the storm through the debris looking for people that might be in farm houses or fields that might need medical attention. And, recently, I added specialized urban search and rescue equipment. It's very special camera and audio equipment that will snake through piles of rubble using infrared heat-sensing cameras to look for people that need medical attention and need to be rescued."Agoglia says they help bring order to chaos. Amazingly, he’s funded the operation entirely with his own money to this point. It’s an operation that costs around 65,000 dollars each month. He’s applied for non-profit status and hopes to receive donations to keep the team running.Agoglia is looking into basing the First Response Team of America here in Springfield for the 2009 storm season."Springfield, MO, for me, is simple strategically located in an area that will allow me to respond to many of the areas that are prone to devastation in tornado alley."Agoglia gave up his New York apartment since he spends so much time helping with disasters. He explains why he decided to dedicate his life to helping others."I have given up a tremendous amount of my personal life and my personal resources that I've worked very hard to get where I'm at in my life, and now, to give it all away and to sacrifice it all, yes, I am very passionate it, but I believe the return on this investment will help communities devastated by disasters for generations to come. And I think that's the return on my investment, is an organization that will meet the needs of communities in a very unique way, and in a way that's never been done before."Agoglia was chosen as one of the top ten heroes in the CNN Heroes Award. Voting to choose the winner runs until the morning of November 20th. To learn more, visit