Photo provided :The local crew is waiting and ready in the staging area.

Archived Story

Ringdahl crew still helping Sandy victims [UPDATED]

Published 10:51am Tuesday, November 13, 2012 Updated 10:51am Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Superstorm Sandy might be over, but crews from Ringdahl ambulance are still working around the clock to ensure those affected have food, water and a warm place to sleep.

Several residents from Fergus Falls and the surrounding areas are among the thousands of emergency responders working day and night on the East Coast, said Ringdahl operations director Randy Fischer.

Some of the areas these crews have been working in include Long Island, Queens, Staten Island, Bronx and Breezy Point.

“We worked out at the Wadena tornado. Imagine that but in all of these areas,” Fischer said. “It’s incredible how large of a scale of event this is.”

The five Ringdahl ambulances are stationed at a base in New York along with about 500 other emergency response vehicles. At any given time throughout the day or night, about 400 are out working and only 100 are at the base where the responders and technicians can take a few hours for a break, Fischer said.

“When they come back from a 24-hour shift, they try to catch some sleep in trucks and tents, get some food and then they go back to work,” he said.

The operation is still ramping up, and while Ringdahl initially committed to working until Sunday, it is likely crews will stick around until after Thanksgiving, said Fischer.

“They could use two to three times as many volunteers as they have out there,” he said. “It’s going to be a long recovery period, and a lot of work still needs to be done.”

On each shift, crews are assigned a mission. Recently, a Ringdahl crew ended up carrying people out of a building from the 14th floor.

Many places are still without power, and cell phone service is sporadic. Monday was the first day Fischer was able to have an extended conversation with some of the crew members.

While it’s going to be a long process, Fisher said overall, things are going well. Additional personnel will soon begin to cycle in to replace crews that have been in New York since the storm devastated the area.

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