FT. LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – When Sandy blew into the North East, the super storm tore apart homes and lives.
More help from South Florida was sent in Monday to see what they could do those still dealing with Sandy’s impact in parts of New York.
More than 40 doctors, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and medical responders boarded flights Monday to for JFK Airport in Queens, New York. They are members of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Florida 5 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (FL-5 DMAT).
The group headed north to give assistance to exhausted medical crews however they can, operating as though they were running their own field hospital.
“One is actually working at some of the shelters to help the Red Cross,” said Pete DeJesse. “Another would be to do what’s called a decompression of emergency rooms in hospital, to give the people up there a little break.”
The medical personnel on the team are from Broward Health, Memorial Healthcare System, Boca Raton Regional Medical Center, West Boca Medical Center and Palms West Hospital. There are also a few private practitioners on the team.
“We have doctors, pharmacists, we have physician assistants, paramedics, doctors, nurses, so we have different ones, people who take care of fractures,” said DeJesse.
Twenty of the team members took off from Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, another seven from Miami International Airport. Other team members have also departed or are in the process of departing from airports in Palm Beach; Jacksonville; Key West; San Antonio, Texas; Memphis, Tennessee and Augusta, Georgia.
Created by Presidential executive order in 1984, the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) is a federally coordinated system that augments the nation’s emergency medical response capability.
FL-5 DMAT originated in 1994, post Hurricane Andrew. It is comprised of members from various hospitals from Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.
“We know what it’s like to be on the receiving end, I know my place during Hurricane Wilma was flooded,” said nurse practitioner Brian Lichtenstein. “I was out of it for five years so I think we all have empathy for people we know what they’re dealing with, we’re used to it ourselves.”
The FL5-DMAT roster also includes personnel from Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue, Coral Springs Fire Rescue, Pembroke Pines Fire Rescue, Hallandale Beach Fire Rescue, Davie Fire Rescue, Boca Raton Fire Rescue and Palm Beach County fire rescue departments.
The medical workers from South Florida will be in the New York City area helping out for the next two weeks.