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Local crews pay respects to to 9/11 victims

September 12, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - As the nation paused to remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, members of Community Rescue Service bowed their heads in prayer for the responders to a new disaster.

Four CRS members left in a convoy of ambulances Saturday to join Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Louisiana, CRS Lt. Melanie Shank said.

Shank remembered the two crews in a prayer during a memorial paying homage to the EMTs and paramedics hurt and killed four years ago at the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon.

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While others rush out from dangerous situations, paramedics and firefighters react and rush in without thinking twice, CRS Chief Christopher Amos said.

A fire captain at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., Amos said the impression of the magnitude of the damage at the Pentagon has stayed with him. He worked at the scene for about 91/2 days, he said.

CRS, a private ambulance company that serves all of Hagerstown, celebrated its 50th anniversary with an Safety Awareness Day open house Sunday. A steady trickle of people, including relatives of CRS members, toured ambulances, Maryland State Police helicopter Trooper 5 and the Safety House Trailer.

Members of CRS also conducted safety checks of car seats. The company checks about 50 car seats for free a month, Shank said.

CRS responds to between 700 and 750 calls for service a month, Shank said.

"It could be anything from 'I've had a sore throat for two weeks,' to people that are in dire ... that are in cardiac arrest,'" Shank said before the Sept. 11 service.

According to Shank, four of the company's members, including her husband, will spend the next one to two weeks in Louisiana, where they will work out of a hospital in Jefferson Parish near New Orleans.

They left in a convoy of five ambulances, including vehicles from Howard and Anne Arundel counties in Maryland, and Smithsburg, Shank said.

"We're still ready to go. We were all sitting around here wondering what we could do, feeling helpless," Shank said.

Amos called CRS's opportunity to help in Louisiana "an honor." According to Amos, the two ambulances will stay in the devastated region, and other crews might rotate through the area.

Amos said the company can make do with the ambulances it has, and while he expressed concern for the paramedics who traveled to the Gulf Coast, he said the situation there has stabilized. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has promised it will compensate the company if it incurs any overtime costs to make up for the lost man-hours, Amos said.

The community will see no decline in service, he said.

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