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Brave Bear Travel Log

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02/01/2016

My name is Brave Bear and this is my story. I need to start with a little background about myself and how I became part of the Emergency Response/Special Operation Unit team. My friend Beth is an EMT for American Medical Response based in Contra Costa County in California. Beth is part of a special team that deploys to help people that are in a disaster situation. She and many others have done this for years. She has special training for this type of assignment. She is part of the Special Operations Unit also known as the SOU. Beth was deployed to a recent hurricane named Harvey and she told me she thought I would make a good addition to her team. She thought that since it was such a scary and emotional time for both the people who lived in the area and for those that came to help, I might be able to help make people smile and maybe lighten their emotional load.

outbound-flight-(1).jpgSo, before we knew it, there was another hurricane and Beth got the call that we needed to head to Texas for hurricane Irma. We got the call on September 9, 2017 about 2000 to be ready to get to our operations base with about an hour’s notice. We were ready…bags and equipment ready to go. It was tough to sleep, not knowing if the call was coming at any moment. We finally got the call and met up with our team at CoCo Ops. Beth introduced me to the rest of our team: Ross, Dave and Kayla and several other people from different counties. We were a combination of EMTs and Paramedics, Strike Team Leaders and rookies. We were all together to help the people in the hurricane affected area. The nice folks at San Francisco airport got us to our flight on time and with all our baggage. Beth and I won the lottery that morning and got to fly first class all the way to Dallas, TX.

Once we landed, we headed to AMR operations in Arlington, TX to find out where we were going to stage. In Arlington, we met people from all over the country. Some folks had been on deployments before and some were on their first assignment. It was cool to meet so many people and I was able to bring a smile to everyone. There were a few nervous people we ran into. It is different being away from home and not knowing the area, the lay of the land or the rules that may be different from our county protocols. Our one common bond was wanting to help those in need any way we could. It was fun to be asked to take a picture…I don’t think of myself as photogenic, but when it came to the smiles that I brought people, it was worth getting my picture taken. Even some of the folks who had been on multiple deployments over the years and were old hats at this disaster thing were brought to smiles when I hung out with them.

dash-pic.jpgOne of our first stops was in Louisiana, but that was for fuel and a quick snack. We were on a mission and had to keep moving. There were so many ambulances in our convoy we seemed to stretch for miles.

We travelled through Jackson, MS in the middle of the night. Hurricanes don’t care what time it is or what other plans you had for the day. We were needed and we had to go now. Funny thing about people that work in EMS. Day or night…it doesn’t matter, they are on the ball. Even if that means that they have to eat gas station food and drive for long distances to get a patient to where they can get the best care for what ails them.

By now I am tired…I am not used to being up all night unlike my EMS counterparts. I think I slept through our stop in Biloxi, MS. I think somebody took my picture…sure hope that I wasn’t drooling.

When we arrived in Tallahassee, FL we met some new folks from the WCTV Eyewitness News that were covering the local hurricane and we were a part of the news that day!! They reported on our efforts and even had a little report about me and what I was doing at a hurricane. It was pretty awesome.

We got to break and get some sleep. That was hard since we were in a stadium for the Florida A&M University. Beth and I met up with a zillion more folks from all around the country. We took turns helping out at the University. I helped in the kitchen serving lunch to all the teams that were staying there or passing through to other staging areas.

Brave-meets-new-yorkers.jpgI took pictures with people that I met from Philadelphia and New York to Arizona and California. It was so much fun making new friends and making people smile.

When we were out on the road, it was scary to see there was no electricity and water and trees were down everywhere. Even though the area we were in was not hit by the hurricane directly, the storms that surrounded it were just as horrible. There were houses that had missing roofs and siding ripped away. Still, I did my best to make people that we met smile. We met folks along the way who all had stories about family or friends that lost so much, or about how lucky people were to escape major damage to family or property.

Our final stop before heading home was Atlanta, GA. We were able to leave our ambulances here and fly home.

brave-in-arizona.jpgAlthough we didn’t meet a lot of children in our travels, I think I was able to touch the child in each of the people that I met. If they only had a small moment when the hurricane didn’t seem so horrible and devastating, then I did my job as part of the ERT/SOU team. And when the next disaster strikes, this bear will be ready and able to go on my next assignment. I will be ready.

As always, friends…be safe out there!!!