LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Lubbock AeroCare is staging crew members in Greenville, South Carolina ahead of Hurricane Florence’s landfall on the East Coast to help with medical and FEMA transports.
According to AeroCare, its owner Med-Trans is FEMA’s provider of ambulances and air assets. The official request for assistance came at noon Thursday. Med-Trans had already started staging in anticipation of the need and to avoid the first effects of the storm. Now, they are waiting on the brunt of the storm to pass.
“The way it worked with [Hurricane] Harvey last year is that we come in behind [the storm],” Flight Paramedic Billy Vinson said. “At that point, utilities are down. Access to hospitals, roads, a lot of the infrastructure is not there anymore.”
As of Thursday, 12 crew members were on the ground with helicopters en route to the area. The personnel and aircraft will join other planes and ground ambulances ready to help with transport needs and patient care.
“It can be the FEMA workers,” Vinson said. “I flew a couple of those that had become ill. It’s people who are on dialysis who need to get to a facility to have dialysis. You have people that don’t have their medicines any more and become ill. If there is no vehicular access in those low lying areas, something has to be done and to use those helicopters are the only way to do that.”
Transports can be used to carry supplies to mobile hospitals or even carry FEMA workers for aerial surveillance of the affected areas.
Some paramedics have also been requested to work ground clinics or mobile hospitals. Whatever the task, the team is ready.
“We all got into this for the original reason of helping folks so it’s another step,” Vinson said. “When you have the opportunity to go all the way across the country and do it, a lot of times you don’t get that chance.”
Vinson said they anticipate being there for at least a week but will serve the area for as long as assistance is needed.
“We’re here to help,” Vinson said. “We’re just another tool in the toolbox for these guys to use here. We’re proud to represent West Texas.”