Missouri task force returns from Louisiana

Thursday, September 18, 2008 | 6:58 p.m. CDT; updated 7:03 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 18, 2008
Doug Westhoff, Missouri Task Force 1 leader, unloads equipment after returning from Louisiana. Westhoff is one of 80 members from the task force, a division of the Boone County Fire Protection District, that went to help with Hurricane Ike destruction.

COLUMBIA — Missouri Task Force 1, the emergency rescue division of the Boone County Fire Protection District, returned home Thursday from its deployment to Louisiana to help with Hurricane Ike relief. The task force performed search-and-rescue missions in and around Lake Charles, La., since their departure on Sept. 11.

Eighty task force members and four rescue dogs returned to Columbia after spending a week assisting with recovery efforts on the Gulf Coast. While the majority of the residents evacuated after emergency warnings, some were reluctant to leave their homes behind.

"We basically went door-to-door," rescue team manager Steve Rinehart said.

During the two days the task force spent searching in Lafayette, La., one emergency situation remained fresh on the minds of several officials.

"One big rescue was a chronically sick man who wanted to ride this storm out like many others," said Roger Huckfeldt, the medical team manager for the task force. "He was very happy to see us. He realized early that day that he was not doing well and needed our assistance."

Missouri Task Force 1 spent the beginning of September in Minnesota for the Republican National Convention as part of precautionary measures in place for possible terrorist attacks. The task force is one of 28 of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Urban Search and Rescue task forces in the country. It trains continually to prepare for deployment to emergency situations around the country.

"We go down there to do the job," Rinehart said. "We're just happy we can go down to support the local mission."



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