EFFINGHAM, Ill. (WCIA) — Members of an ambulance service in central Illinois are preparing for deployment. They’ll head to New York to help with handling the spread of coronavirus there.
“We do everything from natural disasters to things like what’s going on now… tornadoes, floods, snow storms, or just any time an EMS is getting overwhelmed,” said Lakeside EMS CEO Jerrod Estes.
Now, they’re being called out again to help out in New York. Four members of Lakeside EMS in Effingham will head out tomorrow. The state has more cases than anywhere else in the U.S., with nearly 50,000 confirmed.
“We’re sending out two teams, and then I’ll be building some relief teams and second-wave teams as needed,” said Estes. They also need to make sure they have enough people on home base. “We’d like to send more teams, but we gotta cover home first before we cover anywhere else.”
Everyone going is prepared for almost anything. “They have to have HAZMAT training. They have to have National Incident Management System training through FEMA.” Among those is paramedic and deployment team officer Tyler Howell. While he’ll miss his family, he says he’s happy to respond to the frontlines.
“I’ve always wanted to serve any way I can, and plus, too, when you’re a paramedic, you kind of put everyone else’s need above yourself,” said Howell.
While some ambulance services in central Illinois are going to other areas to help, some, like OSF, are staying right here and say they’re fully staffed and equipped to help our area. Members of the Georgetown Ambulance Service, on the other hand, were put on standby yesterday for possible deployment. They’re waiting for orders to send people. Wherever they’re stationed, they’re all a vital part of protecting their communities, even when they aren’t home.
“We like to look at it like if something happened in Illinois and we needed help, we’d like to think that smaller companies like ours in New York would come and help,” said Estes.
Those four people are Tyler Howell, Paramedic, Rachel Pygott, EMT, Steven Gray, Paramedic & COO, and Richard Donovan, EMT. They will be leaving in teams of two tomorrow. They don’t know how long they’ll be gone. They are the first FEMA EMT group to be deployed.