EMS 'Strike Team' returns from Sandy mission

PHILADELPHIA - November 9, 2012

Firefighters - from cadets to the commissioner - saluted as the caravan of rescue vehicles returned to the Fire Academy in Northeast Philadelphia.

"They were summoned. They were asked to go and support all of those folks that had been hardest hit, on the Jersey shore, North Jersey, and New York, and they went," said Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

They were deployed to Jersey City, N.J., which was left without any emergency medical service vehicles after the storm.

They also responded to both a two-alarm and a four-alarm fire in Jersey City.

To assist in the relief efforts, the Philadelphia Fire Department sent five medic units and 1 EMS supervisory vehicle to Jersey City to handle 911 medical calls.

"They have no power for the gas lines, they have no power for schools, they have no power for heating. Then we had the additional problem when power was turned back on and we had electrocutions and houses caught fire and it made a tremendous load for EMS in terms of our response load," said Chief George Butts.

"We were very welcome, widely accepted, made you feel like home," said paramedic Anthony Adams.

Also sent with the Strike Team were six volunteer members and two emergency response vehicles from the Philadelphia Second Alarmers Association.

The Second Alarmers are an all-volunteer organization, whose members respond to fire and police emergencies throughout Philadelphia providing rest and rehab services to firefighters, paramedics and police officers.

"Some of these responders were in areas for as long as three days with no place to get food. They had taken food from their home before they deployed," said Chief Greg Masi of the Second Alarmers.

Commissioner Ayers said the department still has an urban search and rescue team deployed to Far Rockaway.

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