Tonawanda News

November 3, 2012

Emergency personnel sent downstate

Staff Reports
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Seven more Erie County employees were dispatched to the New York City area Friday as residents and emergency personnel there continue to reel from the one of the most devastating storms in decades. 

New York state sent out an urgent plea for assistance with relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, with communications and medical skills among the coastal areas constituting the most compelling needs. 

On Tuesday, six members of the county’s swift water rescue team also headed to Nassau and Suffolk counties to assist after widespread flooding and power outages left millions in dire straits. The team consists of members of  fire departments throughout the area. 

County Executive Mark Poloncarz said with the worst of the storm passed by Western New York with little effect, and that he felt an obligation to mobilize available emergency personnel, all of whom volunteered to aid with the downstate relief. 

The swift water rescue teams are specially equipped to work in the high-water areas. Following a briefing on their deployment, the teams started out for their assignment, which is to last through the end of this week. 

The latest round of of emergency personnel from the area will be deployed through Tuesday, though Kevin Hughes, a communications unit leader with the county Department of Emergency Services, will stay for a longer period. 

“On behalf of all Erie County residents, I wish all of our deploying personnel good luck in their duties and wish them a safe and speedy return to their families here in Erie County,” Poloncarz said in a statement released on Friday. 

His press secretary, Peter Anderson, said on the local stage “things are back to normal” after high winds and steady rains passed through during much of the last week, adding that the county executive decided to act after the scope of the hurricane’s devastation became clear. 

“The state sent the requests out and if they can get filled locally, they get filled,” he said. 

Hughes has been requested to respond to the Nassau County Emergency Operations center about 30 miles outside of Manhattan, where he will support interoperable communications. 

Medical personnel requested to assist in staffing a shelter in Nassau County include emergency medical technicians Pati Aine Guzinski, Jennifer Schaefer and Tim Van Patten. Jackie Andula, a registered nurse, and Dan Kishbaugh, a paramedic, also will accompany the group along with Dr. Andrew McCoy and Dr. Kevin Pacheco. All of the volunteers will return to Erie County on Tuesday, according to Poloncarz.