It's the day Gustav hit. I've gotten to the hospital with Nurse 1 and 2 and thrown on a pair of scrubs to help out - technically I'm an employee of the hospital as an ER Tech although I've never been placed on the schedule. There's water everywhere; part of the roof of the hospital blew out. A team of Evac paramedics from New York and Boston (never seen a guy wearing a Yankees cap and a guy wearing a Red Sox cap work together that well) evacuate the hospital so all that's left are ER staff, my self, and our two Backwater crews, the guys ahead of me on the shift. I hit the wall around midnight, and pass out in the back of the ER. They have the AC on the generator, and when I sleep it is dreamless.
I awake the next morning to relieve the crew from the night before after showering by flashlight in the staff lockers.
We pretty much get our asses hammered. That's what was expected though - I've got a bag full of beef jerky, and I'm ready to go. Later Bossman swings by.
"How Long? For the station?"
"Well, right now, 6 weeks. I'd say two months. The electronics are all fried, the furniture is a write off. The appliances are a write off. Roof is trashed."
He looks emotionally and physically drained. It's not until later that I learn his house had gotten torn up and he had been up for about 48 hours at headquarters, getting us temporary housing and grub lined up.
* * *
They just turned the power back on at our station (where we've erected temporary housing - we're Trailer Trash Paramedics!) yesterday. The infrastructure is pretty trashed but they're making a lot of progress. We ran off generator power for 3 weeks - I feel like a man when I do things like operate giant pieces of equipment and refuel them. Local ER still is open but since the evacuation they have not admitted a patient. Everything's been shipping out to SmokeStack City. We've been burning through a whole tank of diesel every shift, sometimes twice.
What I'd really like to see at the end of this is a bonus on our checks when FEMA shells out. A token of the Company's appreciation - I know it's impractical, but sometimes, you need something a little more tangible then a pat on the back and a "Get your Ass back in the cab, we've got more calls for you."
Hey, I can dream.