Out Of State Medical Crews Reinforce AMR

At a moment's notice the flight crew hops aboard an air ambulance that is based at AMR in Gulfport. The crew is from out of state and they're here to back up the local AMR personnel.

Michigan Flight Nurse Susan Brezezinski says, "The biggest challenge is not knowing the country that we land in and taking the patients to the hospital."

Unfamiliar territory is an obstacle to overcome each day.

EMT Natalie Coste from Michigan says, "Finding the appropriate hospital has been difficult. We're relocated, rerouted, sent to a further hospital often because possibly the closest hospital doesn't have the facilities that they need such as trauma surgery or cardiac care, so that's very challenging."

On this day Rick Briggs is Coste's partner. Briggs works for the Gulfport AMR and says they appreciate the extra help.

"A lot of us who live down here had a lot of damage done with our families and so forth, so it made it a lot easier for us to get our stuff back into working order and to let them work and it's been great," says Briggs.

The number of ambulance calls has dropped since the storm. But AMR VP Steve Delahousey says more ambulances are a must because maneuvering damaged roads and bridges makes for longer response time. The helicopter makes some of the trips shorter and gets patients to neighboring hospitals.

"We've had some physicians leave the Coast since the hurricane and they may or may not come back. So we're having to bypass hospitals because they don't have the specialists necessary to treat the patient's acute condition. And the helicopter enables us to still get the patient to the right hospital in the right amount of time."

The extra crews and ambulances come from more than 20 states. The helicopter is from Atlanta's Emory University Hospital. It is under contract with FEMA and Delahousey says talks are underway to keep it here until the bridges connecting the three coast counties are rebuilt.