Rescue crew assists Gulf Coast
By Kristie Linden, Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
It's almost been two months since Hurricane Katrina ripped the
city of New Orleans, and most of the Gulf Coast, to shreds.
Guardian Angel Ambulance workers the event is not over yet.
Guardian Angel covers medical emergencies in Verona and other area towns. On
Monday, Aug. 29, when Katrina hit land, the ambulance crews were asked to get
on the road to lend a hand in New Orleans.
Carl Kent, Scott Snyder, Greg Magee, Justin Matesic and Brock Littleton
boarded two ambulances reaching the Emergency Operations Center in Baton
Rouge by midday Tuesday.
group came back two weeks later, another group was sent to replace them and
when Hurricane Rita struck on Sept. 24 two more trucks with eight more men
group lived in Baton Rouge with firefighters and EMTs from New Orleans and across the nation in tents sleeping on bunk
beds. They used the showers in a gym across the street. Initially, men
slept on floors in hallways until the camp was set up.
first thoughts in my head were, 'Are we ready to see the very worst life can
throw at us?'" said Scott Snyder, EMT.
Snyder will always remember is when he rescued a 7-month-old child who was
unresponsive. Snyder said he exhausted every effort he
had to keep the boy alive and by the time he handed the baby off to a doctor
at the New Orleans Airport, the boy was breathing.
able to help an innocent victim in all of this," said Snyder.
EMT, showed up for his regular shift that Tuesday and saw several guys all
packed up ready to go south and he asked to be allowed to go, too.
Most of the
Guardian Angel workers who were involved in the hurricane recovery say the
most difficult thing to be a part of was rescuing people who were stranded on
the I-10 causeway.
we first pulled up we saw people who had been there for three or four days
with no food," said Magee. "One of the hardest things was that
someone in the crowd might not have an immediate medical problem, but still
needed to go to hospital. We couldn't take them; we had to do what we were
told to do.
of shootings and looting were exaggerated. There was too much negative
attention. Everywhere we went people were helping each other. I had to tell
one man we couldn't take him because we had a critical patient, he shook my
hand said he understood."
Littleton, EMT, was at the causeway pulling people from boats to shuttle them
to the triage center when he saw a family rowing in a little aluminum boat
with three or four children.
were all shivering and hypothermic. The woman said 'my husband is still on
the other side,' but the workers wouldn't let her back in the water,"
He could see
where the man was waiting for rescue so Littleton talked the pilot of a Black
Hawk helicopter to fly to this man to save him.
paramedic, said the City of New Orleans ambulance crews were amazing. They had lost their stations and
equipment, some had lost their own homes and had nothing but the clothes on
their backs but they kept on working.
Kent said he
feels like he left his second family behind when he returned north.
year or two we'll have an EMS reunion and we'll put our own float together
for Mardi Gras," said Kent, who honeymooned in New Orleans 11 years ago. This rescue mission was the first time he'd returned to the city.
Matesic, EMT, said he was pretty excited to go to New Orleans and put his skills to good use.
we first got there I was scared. People were talking about rioting and
not like that. Everyone we took was so grateful. It was so gratifying to help
these people in total despair, absolutely at the lowest point in their
lives," said Matesic.
One night he
responded to a fire call with New
Orleans and New
York City firefighters. Matesic and his grandfather have both been
firemen in the past, and the chance to sit alongside men from New
York City was overwhelming.
them in such high regard, a lot of people in our field do. I think of them as
kind of an icon. It was unique to sit and talk with those guys," said
Angel group all said they felt like the media didn't completely portray the
intense effort given by the rescue workers. They also felt like there wasn't
enough emphasis on just how devastated the victims were.
how cruel this was to them," said Snyder. "It showed rescues, but
not people with no homes, no families because they were gone. It was
exhausting in every meaning of the word. You had to push to the limit and
push past it. You can't think of yourself."
The men want
to make sure people understand their story in the hopes that future disasters
will be dealt with in a better way.
was inside the
doors of the New
Orleans Airport where there were bodies all over the floor as far as the
eye could see," said Littleton. "The green tagged were walking wounded,
yellow wristbands were more severe, red tags were critical and the black tag
is only supposed to be used on people who are dead.
were people with black tags who were waiting to die. We kept trying to take
the black tags off and get them well enough to get a red tag, but we'd later
find them retagged with black."
up the experience by saying he felt great about what his team was able to go
down there and do.
just glad we had the chance to go down there and be a part of this,"
said Matesic. "Day to day we impact people's lives but we're not as sure
of the impact as we were down there. The smallest things we could do had such
a dramatic impact in their lives. It's not too often you have the opportunity
to affect people like that."