First wave of NWI’s Sandy responders returns home
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent November 1, 2012 8:38PM
Prompt Ambulance vehicles ride together in New York this week. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet
Updated: December 3, 2012 6:41AM
Emergency response teams from Northwest Indiana began to return home Thursday after a four-day deployment along the storm-ravaged East Coast, meanwhile additional crews and supplies were being readied to head back as replacements.
Crown Point Fire Rescue Chief Greg DeLor said he anticipated seeing his paramedics return to the station sometime overnight Thursday. The city sent one ambulance and three paramedics as part of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security District 1 Task Force deployment to the East Coast in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall Monday evening.
“Our guys are on their way home,” DeLor said of the crew that left at 2 a.m. Sunday.
Prompt Ambulance, which is part of the American Medical Response team, is bringing its first crew of responders home and sending a second team to replace them.
“We are sending out 11 crew members to replace the ones who are already on the ground,” Ronald Donahue, communications director for Merrillville-based Prompt, said.
While the first crew was made up of 15 team members and seven ambulances from Lake and Porter counties, the second deployment will tap personnel and supplies from South Bend. Donahue said the team would leave from South Bend at about 5 a.m. Friday.
The first team is expected back in town sometime late Saturday or early Sunday.
Donahue said the first Prompt crew participated in several high-profile evacuations in the last two days, including the evacuation of New York City’s Bellevue Hospital Center. More than 500 patients had to be transferred to other hospitals beginning Wednesday due to electrical system failures at Bellevue.
“That took a long time,” he said.
The team also assisted with a hospital evacuation on Coney Island and the evacuation of a nursing home in Manhattan.
“Everybody’s OK. They are experiencing what we are seeing on the news — flooding, fire damage, that kind of stuff,” Donahue said.
Communication from the team to back home had been spotty the first couple days due to downed cell phone towers. Donahue said Thursday was the first day cell phone communications returned to normal and he was able to get a better picture of the type of help the team was able to provide.
“We feel very privileged to help on a national level,” he said.