Thursday, January 3, 2013

Doing Good, After the Storm

One DG was an Anchor in the Storm Following Hurricane Sandy

Chelsea Davis in front of her team's ambulance.
I left Las Vegas on October 28 with nine of my colleagues from American Medical Response to assist with the disaster clean-up on the east coast after Hurricane Sandy. We arrived at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York, our home-away-from-home, which is actually nothing more than a tarmac; the perfect place for staging more than 300 ambulances. Over the next several weeks, I assisted in the evacuation of NYU and Bellevue hospitals, evacuated countless nursing homes and provided supplemental support for overloaded 911 systems. I found myself walking down the hallways in apartment buildings, alongside NYPD, knocking on doors to offer food, water, blankets and medical care to those who had been living without electricity and water. The smell of rotting food, urine, feces and trash was almost unbearable at times. My team and I drove the streets in awe of the destruction. Cars full of dirt and water, turned sideways and crushed by fallen trees, left many streets inaccessible. When piles of debris began appearing on the sidewalks, I tried to ignore the sullen looks of despair as people emptied their soggy possessions out of their homes and onto the streets for the garbage men.
Some nights I was able to return to Floyd Bennett Field where I would share the facilities brought in by FEMA - eight showers, 24 restrooms, and 14 15-man tents for more than 600 people. Most of us elected to sleep in our ambulances; already sitting in your seat made it easier to wake up at 2:00 a.m. to head out to a shelter!  Sometimes we would be away from Floyd Bennett for days at a time, so we made do with baby wipe “showers” and MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat); I can now officially advise everyone to stay away from the Spaghetti and Meatballs! Occasionally we would luck out and be tasked to a fire house, church, shelter, school or nursing home where we would be allowed to use their hot showers, laundry facilities and enjoy hot meals.
Through it all, I felt like all the work we did wasn’t quite enough; that the desire to “Do Good” and the ability to “Do Good” seem so far from the same. I am truly blessed that I've been called to a profession that allows me to lend my skills in time of need, and this experience has been life changing for me. I have learned many things that I would like to share with you: As bad as you think your life may be, there is always someone who is going through something worse. Appreciate all you have; you never know when you will have to move all you took for granted to the sidewalk for the garbage man to pick up. Above all, always remember that no matter how difficult things may seem, you always have the ability to “Do Good.” A hug, an email, a thank-you or words of encouragement are all you need to make a difference.

Chelsea Davis, Eta Iota-Neveda, Reno, grew up in Reno, Nevada, and graduated college in 2007. She attended paramedic school and graduated in 2009 and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where she lives now. On average she responds to more than 1,400 911 calls a year.You can reach Chelsea at