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Rescue team deploys to Texas

John Maddux, left, Michael Stevens and James DeGering load vans for Hurricane Rita relief.
John Maddux, left, Michael Stevens and James DeGering load vans for Hurricane Rita relief.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

They just got home less than two weeks ago but Utah's Urban Search and Rescue Team is being deployed again.

Utah Task Force One spent two weeks in Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina to help locate survivors and recover bodies.

Now, in preparation for Hurricane Rita, FEMA has asked the task force to deploy to the Forth Worth-Dallas, Texas, area. More than 30 task force members left Salt Lake on Wednesday afternoon just hours after they were activated.

"(FEMA) is preparing a little earlier," said Unified Fire Authority paramedic Joe Wilcken. "The best thing is to get as many people (to the Texas area) as possible."

Even though members of the urban search and rescue team just got home, Wilcken said there was no hesitation when the call for help went out again.

"It's the age-old firefighter mentality," he said. "There was no apprehension whatsoever."

A typical FEMA deployment is between 10 and 14 days. Wilcken said the team didn't know Wednesday exactly what they would be doing. They were expected to arrive in Texas sometime Thursday and wait for their assignment.

Not all of the same firefighters who were sent to Mississippi also went to Texas.