With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida and concern rising by the hour about the millions of people living in the potential path of the storm, three life squads from Community Care Ambulance, each staffed with an EMT and a paramedic left Northeast Ohio to help.
The company, based in Ashtabula, has been volunteering the services of its crews since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“They are well-trained. They accept this responsibility, and we have the utmost respect for them. They’re going into situations that are dangerous and they are going into situations that others are trying to exit from so we have the utmost respect for them — very talented and they do a phenomenal job,” said Michael Sass, Community Care Ambulance.
CEI is also volunteering the services of its utility crews, in anticipation of power outages from the hurricane.
The crews from Cleveland are among 900 FirstEnergy employees being dispatched to Florida, where they will join workers from utility companies across the country to restore power after Irma unleashes its fury.
CEI veterans say the most dangerous part of picking up the pieces after a hurricane is the unknown.
“You never really know what you’re going to get yourself into until you know exactly where you’re at, and once we understand where we’re needed, we’ll start to address the various issues that we may find down there,” Nick Austin told us.
We are told there is a great deal of pride among the Cleveland crews, knowing they will be helping millions of people facing the wrath of Irma.
“They know that they’re going to go down to a situation where their assistance is needed, their expertise and professionalism is needed and they’re going to make a difference,” Austin said.