Ambulance workers help in Sandy’s aftermathFive members of the Ringdahl EMS team in Jamestown recently returned from helping in the aftermath of the storm that affected millions.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Five members of the Ringdahl EMS team in Jamestown recently returned from helping in the aftermath of the storm that affected millions.
Local paramedics and EMTs with Jamestown Area Ambulance were contracted through Para-Corp and Ringdahl EMS to help in New York after Superstorm Sandy.
“It was chaotic, you saw houses destroyed, houses in the middle of the road, water and sand everywhere,” said Jason Klosowski, EMT. “Just kind of like how you see it on the news.”
The Jamestown crew went to work under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and evacuated residents from nursing homes and hospitals in areas without power.
“There was no such thing as a typical day,” said Mike Goulette, EMT.
The group worked all over the city and was stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. From there they were sent out to provide assistance when needed.
“The first assignment we got we had to evacuate a 12-story nursing home with a million and a half square feet,” Goulette said. “I can’t even remember the number of patients there was.”
The group was also one of more than 400 ambulance crews that responded to help with the evacuation of Bellevue Hospital Center, on Halloween night, with a full moon and a handful of criminally insane patients, Goulette said.
Other work included setting up a clinic and helping with minor injuries, or giving flu or tetanus shots. It changed daily.
Ambulance workers saw a neighborhood destroyed, trees ripped out of the ground, boats inside peoples’ homes and more.
“There were parts that looked like war zones,” said Sarah Ulmer, paramedic. “Really a lot of devastation, I think there was a lot more damage done that wasn’t reported, just alone with what we saw.”
A shift lasted anywhere from 16 to 21 hours. Ice cold showers were available every four or five days and they slept in the back of the ambulance.
“There was always food available to us, whether it be hot or cold was hit or miss,” Goulette said. “The food was the same thing over and over; for example, I never want to see a bagel again.”
The group of responders left on Oct. 28 and returned Nov. 17. Some went right back on shift the next day.
Goulette said without the help of ambulance workers from across the country it would have taken years of work to get accomplished what was done in the 21 days they were there.
Ulmer said she was impressed with the volunteer turnout.
“I could not believe the amount of volunteers,” she said. “Even people from their own communities, instead of taking care of their own homes or families, people came up to these different volunteer centers and volunteered their time.”
Kyle O’Leary, paramedic, a responder with the Jamestown group who is now working in St. Cloud, Minn., said the people affected were more willing to get supplies themselves instead of utilizing the shelters and the free supplies.
“They didn’t humble themselves enough to go to the shelters, to pick up these things,” O’Leary said. “It was never their mindset to go get handouts and take things. They didn’t realize these donations are for them.”
He said it was difficult to convince people to take the assistance being offered.
“Even when someone’s house was destroyed, they still think they’re not worthy,” O’Leary said.
Paramedic Juanita Gorder was also in the group from Jamestown that helped. She could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org