Vermont Ambulance Crews Headed to Houston

State responds to FEMA request for ambulance crews to serve in Houston in advance of Hurricane Rita

For Immediate Release: Sept. 22, 2005
Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health

MONTPELIER – Gov. Jim Douglas announced Thursday morning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has requested Vermont’s assistance in providing a portion of an estimated 250 ambulances needed for immediate deployment to Houston in advance of Hurricane Rita.

The call to all available Emergency Medical Service ambulance crews was made by the Vermont Department of Health in coordination with Vermont Emergency Management early Thursday morning.

Twenty-three ambulance units from around the state from Newport to Bennington responded to the call and are assembling crews. FEMA requested experienced two-person crews for deployments that could last as long as 30 days. Crews were told to secure contracts with FEMA before departing Vermont, and 12 have already done so.

“The response from our state’s Emergency Medical Services community was swift and well-coordinated,” said Gov. Jim Douglas. “Vermont crews plan to leave from Brattleboro this afternoon and should be on scene in time to provide any immediate, first-responder care that is needed in the area. We are proud that our EMS crews have stepped forward and will be positioned to make a big difference in the lives of people along the Gulf Coast.”

Health Commissioner Paul Jarris, MD also applauded the volunteers and said that, even with this deployment, he is assured that there will be no deterioration of essential 911 response capability in Vermont. “Twelve ambulance crews with FEMA contracts are all ready to go, when we had none as of 6:00 a.m. this morning. And these are people who could be gone, away from their own families, for as long as 30 days. That’s the world of the first-responder: you need us and we’re ready to go.”

A crew from Newport Ambulance Association committed to the trip less than two hours after learning they might be needed. They planned to leave at 12:20 p.m. from the Northeast Kingdom with arrival at Rescue Inc., in Brattleboro before the planned launch of the convoy at 4 p.m. The convoy plans to arrive at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Twelve Vermont crews had secured FEMA contracts and were ready to go by 11:27 a.m. Thursday morning. Additional crews were working to finalize contractual agreements and recruit any available vehicles and crews.

Vermont Emergency Management, which recently coordinated truck convoys who provided relief aid in Mississippi, is coordinating the logistical details of the trip.

The trip to Houston will take an estimated 28 hours, 47 minutes and is approximately 1,800 miles.