Tribune-Star/Jim Avelis Home safe: Nick Montelauro, COO of Trans Care in Terre Haute stands with two of his employees, Brian Eder and Jeremy Peter, who returned late Thursday night from volunteer work on the east coast. With them is Trans Care employee Sherrie Streeter.

The road home from New Jersey ended with cake and punch for local relief workers.

Staff at Trans-Care surprised two of their own as they returned from deployment to New Jersey in support of Hurricane Sandy’s cleanup effort. Back at the ambulance depot on East Voorhees Street, a large “Welcome Home” banner was filled with signatures and well wishes for EMTs Brian Eder and Jeremy Peter.

Nick Montelauro, chief operating officer of Trans-Care, said the pair went as part of the local emergency readiness group, Task Force 7.

“We thought after four days of MREs, cake and punch would be nice,” he said as the pair entered to applause. “They volunteered for the assignment,” he added.

The two were initially dispatched to help transport patients from distressed health care facilities in New Jersey. Hospitals, nursing homes and other such facilities were impacted right alongside their neighbors as the storm flooded streets and knocked out power lines. While there, their assignments became more broad, Montelauro said.

As holder of Vigo County’s 911 contract, Trans-Care participates in Task Force 7 training, and the assignment to the East Coast not only makes for good training, it reinforces the network of first responders, Montelauro explained. If a comparable disaster were to strike Indiana, volunteers from New Jersey would likewise come and help.

Eder and Peter took one ambulance and left with the group Sunday, returning late Thursday evening.

Sherrie Streeter, their supervisor, said she was happy for their return.

“I’m very proud of them and I’m glad they’re home, and I’m glad they’re safe,” she said.

Eder and Peter said the group drove the last 200 miles of the trip out with no working gas stations available. Service stations throughout West Virginia were out of order, and fuel shortages remain an issue.

Eder said he’s been doing this kind of work for years and was glad to be back. “It’s what we do,” he said.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or

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