A Canadian medical team is heading to the earthquake-ravaged province of Sichuan, China on Saturday to put their skills to use.

The five-member Canadian Medical Assistance Team (CMAT) of doctors and paramedics, including two from Toronto, Ont. and three from Vancouver, B.C., will arrive in Chengdu in Sichuan province within the next 24 hours.

The group will meet with Red Cross and other emergency and relief groups on the ground and make an assessment of the most urgent needs in the region.

It will then create a plan to help on the ground as much as possible during their two-week stay.

CMAT will use the advanced team's assessment to determine what supplies and skills will be most needed for its next response team, which could depart as early as next Wednesday.

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan province on Saturday, only five days after a 7.9-magnitude tremor caused widespread death and destruction in the region.

Chinese officials report the death toll is more than 28,000, and an estimated 11,000 people remain buried in Sichuan province.

Chris Kaley, a paramedic from Squamish, is part of the CMAT team.

He calls himself the rookie of the group because it's his first emergency-response trip.

"It's been a bit of a roller coaster," he said of the preparations ahead of his departure.

"It's starting to sink in now, I think it's going to be a bit overwhelming. I think we're all a bit anxious, but we're looking forward to getting there and getting to work."

The other team members include paramedic Dave Deines from Vancouver, Dr. Dave Ratcliffe from Comox, B.C., and Dr. Haibo Xu and Dr. Charles Jiang from Ontario.

The group is taking medicine, first aid and trauma supplies, as well as physician travel packs, which could potentially treat thousands of sick people.

Donations can be made, and a record of the team's progress can be found on the CMAT website.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Jina You