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National needs supercede local ones

Guard's commitment to security missions makes it unavailable in Berkeley County

Guard's commitment to security missions makes it unavailable in Berkeley County

February 18, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Steve Allen called out the Army National Guard.

Problem was, they were busy.

Allen, director of the Berkeley County Office of Emergency Services, hoped the Guard could provide a couple of Humvees and crews to go with paramedics on emergency calls to remote sections of the county because of snow-covered roads. But the vehicles and personnel were tied up with national security missions, he said.

Members of the Air National Guard offered crews on a fire truck, who will go with county medics on all calls that require advanced life support, said Monte Conner, field operations supervisor for the Berkeley County Emergency Ambulance Authority.

If the Guard crew is not needed, they'll be placed back in service, Conner said.

The number and type of calls coming in Monday were not too different from an average day, however, three - not two, as usual - ambulance crews were working, Conner said.

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Because some roads were all but impassable, it takes crews longer to travel to and from a destination. A third crew means more medics will be available to handle calls, Conner said.

Tire chains were used on all ambulances, Conner said.

"We're out there doing the best we can," Conner said.

Allen said some calls, included breathing problems from people who overexerted themselves while shoveling. Other calls included possible roof collapses, people slipping on ice and cardiac arrests.

"We've kind of refined it down to an art," Allen said of answering calls that come in during and immediately after a heavy snowfall.

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