PHOENIX — Louisiana is facing two extreme crises at once. Hospitals are packed to the brim with COVID 19 patients and the state is dealing with the devastation and emergency of Hurricane Ida.
“So this is our plane, we own and operate all of our own planes,” said Natalie Arnold a flight paramedic with AirCARE1 out of Phoenix.
ABC15 spoke to her over Zoom just after she and her team landed at ground zero. Their mission is to fly patients out of area hospitals to make room for more.
“This the inside of the aircraft, the patient goes right there, the med crews go off to the sides, the pilots up here,” said Arnold.
“Prior to the hurricane, hospitals were absolutely overflowing here,” said Arnold.
“This is just a disaster too and they need all the help they can get,” said flight nurse Jennifer Grim.
Over the next five days, the men and women on this team will navigate the destruction en route to local hospitals. They will pick up patients and take them to the awaiting aircraft.
“We really specialize in ICU level transports all of our nurses, our ICU nurses, our paramedics are all critical care certified,” said Flight Paramedic Ty Cook.
Nearly every patient they fly out is now headed outside the state where additional resources are waiting. Medical supplies at hospitals in Louisiana are running low.
“It can be tricky because there is so much uncertainty to it that really it is just part of the deal when you come into a position like this,” said Flight Nurse Matt Nasel.
Also heading to Louisiana is a caravan of Cox field technicians. The group will work alongside local power companies to repair internet, television, and phone services for millions of residents.
“As poles get up, they’ll start to hang our facilities on those same poles,” said Andrea Katsenes Pappas with Cox Communications.
The crews are expected to spend at least a month on the ground there conducting repairs. But with so much devastation and desperation, going beyond the call of duty becomes the norm.
“They are working alongside the power company but oftentimes they’re also moving trees, helping people at their own homes, as long as they’re there, they’re pitching in to help the community as well,” said Katsenes Pappas.