Utah doctors and first responders on Disaster Medical Assistance Team deploy to Texas

Posted at 3:11 PM, Aug 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-29 17:11:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY - A DMAT, or Disaster Medical Assistance Team from Utah, left from Salt Lake International Airport Tuesday morning to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The team is comprised of medical professionals who train together throughout the year and can leave on very short notice to respond to a natural disaster or other emergency, very similar to a National Guard deployment.

The 36-person team of doctors, nurses and EMT's has been on standby since the weekend.

They don't know exactly what they'll be doing or where they'll be going, but based on what he's seen so far, their commander is almost certain the unit will be pressed into service somewhere in or around Houston.

"Last I heard there were 22 hospitals that were closed and multiple other hospitals that were in the process of evacuating," Steve Bott, Commander of Utah 1 DMAT said.  "And that may be part of our mission, is to help move people out of the most severely affected area and get them to places that are not affected."

Members of the DMAT have a diverse set of skills.

"Everybody here, they're in health care somewhere, or in very similar, fire service, police," EMT and Clinical Psychologist Terry Begay said.  "And that's their passion, their love in life and they want to serve."

The DMAT is under the umbrella of the Federal Emergency Management Administration or FEMA.

This particular group has been training together for a decade but this will be their first real deployment.

They pride themselves on being a self-sustaining unit, able to be together within 72 hours with everything they need in terms of food, medicine and temporary shelter.

The first stop will be Dallas and from there the team will be assigned to the area in greatest need of assistance.