EASTON-A special team of emergency medical services personnel departed in the darkest hours of the morning Thursday for New Jersey and some of the most distressed areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.
The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems responded readily to a request from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for an Ambulance Strike Team to assist in recovery efforts. The Strike Team, consisting of two sets of five ambulances, two supervisors and a Task Force coordinator, was put in place through a shared network of national, state and local jurisdictions' resources. Complicated though that may sound, their job is simple: Provide emergency medical services and the supportive service, backup and supply distribution where and when they are needed.
When Talbot County Department of Emergency Services Director Clay Stamp received the S.O.S., he put together a crew made up of the department's division chief Brian Lacates, paramedic Brian Micheliche and EMT Tony Kapela, to deploy to New Jersey.
"This is a neighboring state [-] New Jersey is not that far away," Stamp said. "The people of Talbot County certainly can feel the pain of New Jersey and New York. It could have very well been us."
The Strike Team will be making base camp at the MetLife stadium in the Meadowlands, N.J., and providing emergency medical and evacuation services to the residents of Atlantic County and parts of New York, where the devastation left in the wake of the hurricane is some of the worst.
The Talbot Strike Team could be gone a week or longer as people work to dig their way out of debris, reconstruct their lives and return to some normalcy. As damage assessment continues, the Talbot emergency services department is ready to respond, both here and abroad.
"This is a very giving and very supportive community," said Stamp. "When times are bleak, people come together. These efforts are an expression of the entire community's support for what's going on around them."
Maryland could easily have ended up like New Jersey, said Stamp. "As easy as several degrees shift west of the (hurricane) track about 12 hours earlier," he said. "Had it not moved the way it did, we would have been sitting in the same position they are."
Of the evacuation, clean up, damage assessment and restoration here in Maryland, such as Ocean City, and all along the East Coast, Stamp said, "This is not a quick process. We'll be going through this for some time."