FEMA calls on Texas rescue task force to assist in World Trade Center search

9/11/2001 12:00 AM

Texas Task Force 1, the Urban Search and Rescue response team headquartered at Texas A&M, was activated today (Sept. 11) and will be sent to assist rescue operations at the World Trade Center in New York City.

The 62-member team consists of rescue experts, hazardous material specialists, structural engineers, canine search teams and medical personnel who will help locate survivors of the terrorist attack that occurred earlier today. The team is administered by The Texas A&M University System's Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).

"Given the incident today, the only good thing I can say is that the two cities best prepared to handle such an event are New York City and Washington, D.C.," said G. Kemble Bennett, TEEX director and director of the task force.

The team was last deployed to help find survivors and victims of the tornadoes that struck Ft. Worth last year. Created in 1997 over concerns following the Oklahoma City bombing, the team only recently became one of the 28 federal search and rescue teams nationwide. It is also one of only six teams trained to deal with weapons of mass destruction. The team originally was to be sent to help with rescue efforts at the Pentagon but was later reassigned to New York City. The team may remain active up to 10 days.

"This is the biggest incident that has ever hit us," said task force leader Tim Gallagher.

With the tools and the expertise the team has, it can dismantle any structure that exists today to get to survivors, he said.

Team leaders say their primary concern is for the safety of task force members. A number of emergency response personnel were killed earlier today in initial rescue operations.

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