Members of Arizona's urban search and rescue team have just returned from a 20-day deployment to Texas and Florida. They have been home for less than a week, and they are now preparing to be deployed once again, to another disaster area.
Arizona's Task Force 1 just got home from back-to-back deployments. First, they were sent to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Straight from Texas, they went to Florida to help, after Hurricane Irma made landfall.
Now, with Hurricane Maria leaving a deadly path of destruction, members of the task force are on-call, for their third deployment in less than a month.
Search dog Oso has the drive and energy to get back to work. He, and the rest of the members of Task Force 1, didn't have time to settle back into their daily routine when FEMA called on Thursday.
"They gave us orders to be on alert, to get our equipment ready," said Captain Dana Medlin with Arizona Task Force 1.
The team is packing up and re-stocking their supplies, as officials assess the devastation left in Hurricane Maria's wake. Orders to deploy could come down any moment. As of now, they don't know where they might go, or for how long.
"We do have teams in Puerto Rico, in Virgin Islands," said Medlin. "We have teams on standby on the East Coast. Again, we don't know where were going, but it would make sense we would go somewhere on the mainland, or U.S. territories in the Caribbean."
The team was just deployed to Texas and Florida for 20 days straight, and the are home now for less than a week. No one, however, is complaining about fatigue.
Four live-find dogs, and one cadaver dog are part of the team, and the dogs could play key roles in finding survivors. The dogs are trained to clear large areas, in mere minutes.
"The dogs can go through and cover the rubble, and get into places we can't get into," said Medlin. "Their nose is so sensitive, they can alert and find those people trapped in there, where it would take us hours to set up our equipment."
Task Force 1 could deploy, as early as Saturday morning.More