Philadelphia's homeless get help during Code Blue

Watch report from Action News
January 7, 2014 8:25:24 PM PST
Philadelphia has launched a special effort to protect the homeless on another brutally cold night.

Helena Boyle and Sarah Sterling were on duty Tuesday night braving the 10 degree temperatures reaching out to homeless people and those suffering from mental illness.

Helena Boyle says she hasn't seen temperatures like this in 15 years.

"This is really cold, it's dangerous," said Boyle.

The two work for Pennsylvania Hospital's Hall Mercer Mental Health Outreach team, part of a network of hospitals and non-profits that have people out and about during a Code Blue.

15 years on the job, Boyle is tough - no hat needed. She is also quite compassionate, making sure she gets homeless people off those vents.

"On a night like this, that could kill them. The vent makes you feel like you're warm and toasty, but you are actually wet," she said.

They encountered an appreciative Frankie.

"I don't think I've ever been this cold in my life," said Frankie.

They took him back to Hall Mercer Community Behavioral Health Center to get him food and a warmer coat.

It wasn't long before they were back on Market Street helping someone else.

Sarah Sterling spent years as a social worker.

Boyle and Sterling also transport those in need to shelters like the one at Broad and Lehigh.

"We have to keep them out of harm's way tonight. It's really important," said Boyle.

The outreach workers typically work 8 hour shifts, and say they make contact with about 10 to 15 homeless people every night.

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