EMS sends ambulance to help in Houston
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Sept. 6, 2005 -- Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services has dispatched one mobile intensive care unit ambulance to Houston to supplement the services to hurricane survivors there.

The ambulance service was contacted early Sunday by state health officials to send help, according to EMS Director Mark Potter.

�Right after the hurricane hit and Texas decided to get involved in all of this, the state started calling EMS services to see if anyone had units and crews available,� Potter said. �We did and were able to staff one truck and we were put on an activation list.�

When the call came, Potter said, Hopkins County EMS was ready to respond.

�They actually wanted two units, but I was only able to send one,� Potter said. �They said bring a whole bunch of expendable supplies, so we loaded a truck up with supplies.�

The expendable supplies included several cases of IV solutions, 50-percent dextrose for diabetic patients, medication and breathing masks to treat asthma sufferers, along with large quantities of bandage supplies.

Paramedics Jeff Sanderson and Hank Kyle drove to Houston’s Reliance Center to sign in and get their duty assignments.

Potter said his paramedics told him that security in Houston was intense.

�They had to sign in in four or five different places,� he said. �Once they got signed in, they were assigned to the George R. Brown Convention Center.�

Working with doctors and other EMS crews, the paramedics functioned as a combination clinic-triage facility. If it was determined someone needed to be taken to a hospital, a mobile intensive care unit ambulance was utilized to make the transfer.

�They just kind of sit there in a rotation, and as the need arises, they are sent to a hospital,� Potter said.�

The local paramedics will be on duty in Houston through the middle of this week. Potter said it was possible that another crew would be dispatched.

Local paramedics were ready to respond as the disaster developed.

�When the state called, I sent out a page and got about 15 people that volunteered,� Potter said. �If we were going to go to Louisiana, I was going to send three or four at a time, but since we went to Houston, we just sent two.�

Recent budget concerns at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital prompted a reduction in staffing for the ambulance service. The EMS supervisor said expenses incurred in sending equipment and personnel to Houston would be reimbursed by the federal government.

�That was the main thing. When they started talking about all of this, they said to not just send trucks,� he said. �It had to go through [the proper] channels to be eligible for reimbursement.�

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