Area paramedics aid in Ike recovery

Courtesy photo Apple Wood, an EMT-Intermediate for Causey, left,; Wiley Teal, an EMT-Intermediate for the Milnesand Fire Dept., center,; and Rhonda Gorrell, an EMT-Basic for Dora, stock an ambulance prior to deployment to assist in hurricane recovery efforts.

CNJ staff

Nearly three dozen paramedics from a dozen New Mexico counties are helping with recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.

Jan Elliott, the executive director of Emergency Medical Services Region III, said 12 crews of two or three persons have been moving throughout Texas since they were first deployed Wednesday night.

The crews were deployed through an Emergency Management Assistance Contract, or EMAC. Elliott expects the crews to be in Galveston for the next four or five days and to be relieved by the end of the week.

“The EMAC request came in as a 14-day mission,” Elliott said. “Normally, they’re not going to keep most crews past that … because of fatigue and other issues.”

Members of Region III, which is made up of 12 counties including Curry and Roosevelt, deployed Wednesday night from either Clovis or Carlsbad. Elliott said crews have been to Victoria, College Station, San Antonio and Galveston for a series of duties associated with what Texas Gov. Rick Perry pronounced “the largest search-and-rescue operation in the history of the state of Texas.”

Duties have ranged from patient transfers to 911 call assistance to door-to-door recovery.

“It’s just been one thing after another,” said Elliott, noting the unpredictability of Ike led to the fluctuation of duties. “It was nice to have these people on standby to make sure they could do anything they needed done.”

Of the personnel, Elliott estimated 70 percent came from volunteers at their respective departments — including Melrose, Causey and Artesia fire departments.

Elliott said she last talked to EMS personnel stationed in Galveston at 11 a.m., as they were deployed there in strike teams of 25. She hasn’t heard anything else, due to a current lack of cell phone service in Galveston.