TERRE HAUTE —
A team of emergency responders from Trans-Care Ambulance in Terre Haute has mobilized to respond to East Coast states preparing for the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
However, as of Monday afternoon, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security had not yet notified any Indiana National Guard units of impending deployment to assist in the response efforts.
Trans-Care was placed on standby by IDHS on Saturday. Early Sunday, deployment orders were received, and the Trans-Care team departed to Indianapolis to rendezvous with about 60 other responders from around the state to convoy toward the East Coast.
“We were overwhelmed by the response of our crews to our page-out for volunteers for deployment,” said Nick Montelauro, Trans-Care’s chief operations officer. “We had over 20 express their willingness to go and we would have sent more people, but we needed to be sure that local needs would be taken care of without delay as well.”
The team was deployed through Indiana Task Force 7 — a multi-agency response organization covering eight counties in west-central Indiana — for a deployment lasting four days or more. The local team traveled to the coastal regions of New Jersey for assignment in assisting evacuation of health care facilities in the path of the storm.
“Trans-Care has been a long-time EMS participant and supporter of Task Force 7,” said Russell Ferrell, president of Trans-Care. “Our purpose in supporting TF7 is as a way to demonstrate our care for our local community by helping others in time of urgent need. We also understand that, someday, it may be us asking for help, so we pay it forward.”
This is not the first time Trans-Care has responded for disaster relief, but it is the first time the company has sent crews outside Indiana. Trans-Care deployed for a nursing home fire in Martinsville in 2003, to tornadoes in the Evansville area in 2005, and helped evacuate nursing homes in Terre Haute due to flooding in 2001 and 2008.
Because of Trans-Care’s technology in-vehicle location, employees in the company’s communications center can actually track the units as they travel to, from and around New Jersey. Montelauro said that Trans-Care’s team will remain in the area until at least Wednesday and will be assigned to any task needed by those coordinating the storm response at federal, state and local levels.
Indiana began receiving requests for resources to aid with evacuation and response for Hurricane Sandy on Sunday, through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
IDHS Senior Public Information Officer John Erickson said requests for assistance usually come in with a request for a particular problem, and then IDHS matches up a resource that can provide the needed service, such as flood control or medical service. IDHS acts as the clearinghouse for the emergency response, and as such, would notify National Guard units of activation.
As of Monday morning, 107 people and 44 vehicles, including 24 ambulances, had been deployed to the East Coast. Some will assist with evacuation of hospitals and nursing homes, while others will be on standby to assist as directed by the agencies coordinating the response.
“We believe Indiana was one of the first, if not the first, state to respond to the request for aid from the east coast,” said Joe Wainscott, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “We are constantly planning, training and preparing our emergency response resources so they can be readily available to assist our citizens in Indiana and others in their time of need.”
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.