Vermont EMS Ambulance Crews Continue Service in Remote Areas of Texas Hit by Hurricane Rita


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BURLINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) deployed three Vermont ambulance crews to a small town in East Texas on Monday following a specific request by a Newton County Sheriff’s Department deputy who had worked alongside the Vermonters and wanted them back.

“The Vermont crews are very professional, very caring and I couldn’t have asked for more outstanding folks to show up here,” said Deputy Lewis White. “It was chaos when they first arrived. Extremely hot. A lot of people dehydrated. Our local ambulance service was running 24/7. These folks took the load off and everyone worked well together.”

Replacement crews were flown in from Vermont to Houston over the weekend to relieve Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel who have steadily transported patients and provided clinical care support and 911-emergency assistance since Sept. 22.

Twelve Vermont ambulances and 30 EMS personnel remain in Texas as patients are transported from metropolitan areas back to rural areas that were evacuated in the wake of the storm.

The Vermont crews were reduced by one ambulance when a three-person crew from Rescue Inc. was rear-ended by an ambulance from California on Saturday resulting in minor injuries. The Brattleboro crew flew home to Vermont on Sunday.

Phil Brooks, 35, of Barton was among the Derby Line Ambulance, Inc. replacement crew members who arrived in Houston over the weekend. Routine patient transports of more than 600 miles in a single day are difficult to get used to, Brooks said. “We used to grumble about transporting patients from Newport down to Dartmouth-Hitchcock,” Brooks said. “Compared to what we are doing here in Texas, that trip is a short Sunday drive.”