Cherry Hill native among first responders in South Florida searching for survivors in condo collapse

Crews in Miami are not giving up hope as they search for survivors in South Florida. The death toll of the building collapse has risen to 11, with 150 people still missing.

A south Jersey native is one of the many people on the ground still searching inch-by-inch.

"Right now, we’re still in rescue mode," stated Dr. Ben Abo, an EMS physician with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1.

Originally from Cherry Hill, Dr. Abo is a first responder on the ground in Miami, spending every waking moment searching for the 150 people missing after last week’s condo collapse.

"It’s tough work, it’s emotional work, it’s brutal work," Abo commented.

Abo, an EMS physician, who says he’s been working in the field for about 25 years, describes the rescue mission as especially complex, even with the highly skilled Miami-Dade urban search-and-rescue team, search dogs and specialized machinery.

"If we go too fast or make a bad move and we get hurt or one of my dogs gets hurt, that’s a problem and, also, if there’s anyone surviving in the rubble, we also don’t want to hurt them even more," Abo explained.

Abo said Sunday, family members of the missing were allowed to visit the collapse site to better understand the challenges the first responders are facing. Mother Nature is one of those challenges.

"Heat, humidity, massive rain storms that come with lightning – a hazard itself. Periods of high wind," Abo added.

Abo and his colleagues remain committed, and full of heart, while they search for life they’re also collecting and setting aside people’s most cherished possessions.

"Whether it’s wedding photos, or I found a couple of bar mitzvah photos. If we find jewelry or something identifiable, we’re doing what we can to not only rescue people, but give respect and dignity and help the survivors. I’m very proud of our team," Dr. Abo remarked.



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