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Local AMR staff helping with hurricane relief discuss challenges they face as Florence leaves Caroli



American Medical Response is deploying hundreds of people from all over the country for Hurricane Florence, including more than 30 of local first responders and staff.

The storm may have slowed down, but floodwaters have not. AMR crews told FOX 12 they are still in coastal areas trying to get to everyone needing help.

They say there are spots surrounded by floodwater – essentially islands with people they can't reach yet.

At AMR's national command center in Dallas, Portland-based national director Marc Kilman-Burnham is there, helping with logistics for all the crews in the Carolinas.

“Getting meals and making sure they're taken care of transportation-wise and anything that needs to be done to take care of our people and make sure they perform these missions safely,” he said.

Kilman-Burnham says we're in the aftermath of Florence, and national crews are working remotely to make sure their emergency responders are prepared for the danger floodwaters bring.

“The type of devastation and the flooding is different than the type of flooding we'd have in the Pacific Northwest,” he said. “This is flooding that’s going to have debris mixed in it, there could be poisonous snakes. There’s all kinds of things that are different than what we deal with in the Pacific Northwest.”

On the ground in South Carolina at the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport is AMR’s Oregon regional director, Randy Lauer.

“I mean, we’re from Oregon. We’re used to rain, but the rain that comes from a hurricane is a lot more intense than any kind of rain we’ve ever seen in Oregon,” he said.

Lauer has helped on 12 hurricanes and is involved with the disaster response team.

“It’s challenging because there’s a lot of sleepless days and a lot of work to be done in a very short period of time,” he said.

Lauer said 30 local emergency medical technicians and paramedics are among 1,300 people from AMR helping with Florence response efforts.

“They're all really eager. I mean, everybody's a volunteer and there are a lot of people back home that would love to deploy but we just can't afford to send that many more people because our primary responsibility is the people we serve,” he said.

Lauer says of their perspective on the trip: “They're conflicted but the devastation and how so many people are pretty profoundly affected by this, so it pulls at their heart strings at the same time.”

AMR officials say crews will be on a seven- to 14-day activation, but that can change as the environment around them does too.


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