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Rescue Crews Head Home After Helping Sandy Victims

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Florida rescue crews who were sent out two weeks ago to assist those affected by Hurricane Sandy in New York have started to return.

Sunday afternoon, part of Florida’s Disaster Medical Assistance Team returned home from the Northeast. The experience help sharpen their skills while rendering essential care to those in need.

“There was a lot of people that were just grieve struck by the amount of damage they had, said Mark Ellis, Division Chief, City of Hallandale Beach Fire Department who serves on the team. “They just had nothing.”

As Hurricane Sandy’s wrath swept through the Northeast in late October, the Florida-5 DMAT team deployed. Their specialized skills helped New Yorkers in need.

“It was a challenge, but we met the challenge,” said Dr. Carol Bakwin, a Clinical Psychologist who serves on the Florida-5 DMAT team.

The 42 medical personnel from the Florida-5 DMAT team included nurses, nurse practioners, pharmacists, paramedics, and mental health practioners from Broward Health, Memorial Healthcare System, Boca Raton Regional Medical Center, West Boca Medical Center and Palms West Hospital. A few private practioners also joined the team.

The rescue crews provided first aid, triage, medical stabilization, medical staging and medical care to those in need in Long Beach.

The team quickly got to work; for weeks the team treated patients impacted by Superstorm Sandy.

“Anytime you get to go help people that are in need of so much help it’s a fantastic experience all around,” said Ellis.

The field hospital, called the DMAT, was comprised of six tents and even had an emergency room.

“We could do anything but minor surgery there or if there was a heart attack we would stabilize the person and send them out the nearest local hospital” said Bakwin.

For two local fire fighters from Hallandale Beach who serve on the DMAT team, the experience was more than learning how to deal with the emergency management aspect of the disaster. They also learned skills such as suturing and giving vaccinations under the direction of doctors staffing the hospital.

“It gives my firemen a change to learn things they can’t do here in South FL,” said Ellis.

More of the team half of the team returned on Sunday, the rest of Florida 5 DMAT team will come home to South Florida Monday.

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