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Local emergency responders join team offering aid to East Coast storm victims

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Posted: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:15 am, Wed Oct 31, 2012.

Massive superstorm Sandy spent Monday night wreaking havoc on much of the East Coast. But some local emergency responders were there ahead of the storm to lend a helping hand.

The call went out on Friday. Who among the emergency medics and technicians could be ready in 24 hours to work through the storm?

More than 30 members of the American Medical Response NorCal Strike Team traveled to New York and New Jersey on Saturday. AMR contracts with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to deploy teams during emergency weather scenarios, said AMR spokesman David Durand. This team will remain for seven to 14 days before a new team flies out to replace and reinforce them.

Six members of the strike team are from San Joaquin County, including two team leaders, Rob Henning and Fred Gregory. More units, meaning an ambulance and a two-person team, have been called for in the coming days.

The main challenge the workers face is transportation. Right now, all flights are grounded, making it tricky to get more emergency help to those areas affected by the storm. Once they arrive, there's limited shelter and food, and no power in many areas.

Members of the NorCal Strike Team were among those helping to evacuate New York University's Langone Medical Center, which consists of three hospitals, after their power and a backup generator went out.

Emergency workers are also answering standard 911 calls.

"Just because a hurricane is going on, doesn't mean no one is calling for things like chest pain," said Durand.

Durand assured San Joaquin County residents that there are still plenty of emergency personnel in the area to take care of normal crises.

"We sent a small group of highly trained people, but there are still people here. There is no need for alarm or concern," he said.

The San Joaquin Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol in San Joaquin County, Lodi police and Galt police are not sending any officers.

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