Vermont EMS Ambulance Convoy Begins Patient Transport Duties at the Direction of FEMA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 25, 2005

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BURLINGTON – The Vermont convoy of 13 ambulances with two-and-three person EMS crews was dispatched by the Texas Emergency Medical Services Emergency Operations Center on Sunday to transport 17 patients from Memorial Medical Center, a 50-bed facility in Livingston, Texas.

Livingston took a direct hit from Hurricane Rita and local EMS crews were nearly out of fuel and overwhelmed with assignments. Livingston is a small town 120 miles north of Galveston. Patients with chronic lung illness, infections, heat stroke and other medical conditions will be transported to three separate Texas destinations, including Houston. The Vermont crews, who have been together as a unit since leaving from Brattleboro, Vermont on Sept. 22, will now be split up for the first time.

Vermont crews were redirected by Texas EMS and FEMA officials from an earlier assignment to remove 15 patients from Trinity Rehab and Retirement in San Augustine, Texas. Wind from Hurricane Rita shattered the glass door of that facility and the 88-bed facility was beyond capacity with 126 people. “We have been on generator power for the past 36 hours and we’ve been without running water for about 16 hours,” said Trinity Administrator Cassandra Harper. “As far as emergency medical issues right now, we are okay. It could have been worse.”

All 32 of Vermont’s EMS personnel visited the Faith Crossing Church in Forney, Texas on Saturday evening. Paramedics treated four people in the community for medical conditions including a person with diabetes whose blood sugar level was dangerously high, and a person with high blood pressure who evacuated without his medication.

John Vose, 43, a paramedic with Upper Valley Ambulance who is leading the Vermont team, said everyone is relieved to be on scene and working. “We had guys who wanted to drive straight through from Vermont to Texas – which is typical EMS people,” Vose said. “The fact that it took 2.5 days didn’t sit well with them at all. It is a relief to be down here and finally getting a chance to work.”

Vose predicted that they would be repeatedly deployed along the Gulf Coast through the night. Reliant Stadium in Houston is the central staging area for ambulances – including the Vermont convoy – deployed by FEMA.