Sep 11, 2017

Florida IAEP Members Respond to Hurricane Irma

(Wednesday, September 13, 2017) Thanks to the hard work of IAEP National Representative Mike Marasco, we have more details about the experiences of IAEP members in Florida during and after Hurricane Irma. We will continue to post information as it becomes available.
As Hurricane Irma made landfall in Marco Island, Florida in the wee hours of Sunday, September 10, IAEP members throughout Florida were on duty. Many were called for long shifts, some up to 72 hours each. But as the storm moved up the west coast of Florida, sustained winds topped 45 m.p.h. triggered a mandatory suspension of EMS service in affected areas. Marasco reported that EMTs and paramedics were frustrated listening to calls but being unable to respond to them.
“We are recalled when conditions get too dangerous for us to respond, and conditions were treacherous,” said Marasco. “In one call, a tree fell on a police cruiser and pinned a deputy and a paramedic because of a live downed wire.”
The hurricane tracked through the Fort Myers area later on Sunday, where the Lee County EMS Supervisors of Local R5-533 work. As Irma continued a WNW path, the winds and rain hampered the efforts of other locals, coastal and inland alike. Marasco reported that impacted locals include Manatee County EMS (Local R5-747), Sunstar Paramedics in Pinellas County (Local R5-247), Nature Coast EMS in Citrus County (R5-365), and Escambia County EMS in the Florida panhandle (Local R5-325) along the coast. Locals further east included Rural/Metro Orlando (R5-84), Volusia County EMS (R5-577), and Rural/Metro Sumter County (R5-92).
CCAN Ambulance from Ohio (Local R7-252) has units in Florida as part of strike team efforts with FEMA. Many Manatee County EMS professionals have now packed up after serving their communities and are heading south to continue rescue and relief efforts down in south Florida. 
As the cleanup continues, millions of Floridians are still without electricity. Several areas are taking steps such as instituting curfews because of continuing hazards like standing water and downed electrical lines.
Marasco said he is proud of his EMS colleagues for facing an unprecedented threat. “These EMS professionals stepped up and faced a beast.  Many have never experienced anything like this. Our last major incidents were Andrew in 1992 and Charley in 2004, and they weren’t anywhere near the size of this storm!  They did a bang up job and continue to do so!”

(Monday, September 11, 2017) As Floridians begin to clean up after one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to hit the U.S., the IAEP members in our Florida locals are on the job.
Despite Hurricane Irma’s wind speeds of over 100 miles per hour in some locations and storm surges along the coasts, preliminary reports from news media suggest that robust emergency preparations and evacuations may have saved lives. Reports of casualties are still coming in, but as of Monday mid-day, national media reported that there were five deaths in Florida because of Hurricane Irma.
The damage to the state, however, is substantial More than six million Florida residents awoke on Monday without power. EMS crews from around the country, as well as public works and infrastructure professionals, will be heading to Florida beginning today to assist in the cleanup, which could cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
We will bring you more news about and from our IAEP members in Florida as it becomes available.

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Satellite image of Hurricane Irma as it approached the southern tip of Florida on Saturday September 9 Image from NASA/NOAA GOES Project.
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