Hurricane Sandy and Devastated EMS Agencies

I was browsing the FEMA photo library and came across this photo:

The website on the sign is the web site for Moonachie First Aid and Rescue Station. Hurricane Sandy flood waters forced an unplanned evacuation and 6 feet of water destroyed everything.

Other Services Email for Help

I have received or been forwarded help/donation requests from many ambulance company and EMS agencies that were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, I lack both the time and savvy to discern a legitimate request from a hoax or a true need from a nice to have want. I imagine that damage happened on a continuum from minor to total loss.

Requests for “supplies” are most perplexing to me. This is partly the same struggle I have with international EMS/healthcare missions that make a call for supplies. Receiving an offload of expired or about to expire patient care disposables or an over abundance of a single item creates another set of problems for the recipient.

My Thought Process…

I have these thoughts when I receive emails or see Facebook pages asking for supply donations  this:

1. Is it legit?

2. Would it be better to send money so the receiving organization can purchase for need rather than ending up with 10 years worth of 4 x 4 s?

3. I would prefer to make a contribution to a 501c3 for the tax deduction.

A 501c3 might have the flexibility to:

  • purchase in bulk on behalf of the receiving organization
  • rank the need or worthiness of recipients
  • assess the legitimacy of requests
  • differentiate needs from wants

Disaster Planning

Finally, every EMS organization needs to have a disaster response and recovery plan. It needs to be more sophisticated and comprehensive than: 1) hope everyone shows up, and 2) ask for donations later. Continuity of operations, maintaining staff, protecting assets, measuring losses, and replacing losses should all be part of the planning process.

What am I missing? Am I over thinking this? How should I look at this differently? 


By Greg Friese

Greg Friese, Stevens Point, Wisconsin, is an author, educator, paramedic, and marathon runner.

Greg was the co-host of the award winning EMSEduCast podcast, the only podcast by and for EMS educators. Greg has written for,, Wilderness Medical Associates, JEMS Magazine, and EMS World Magazine, and the NAEMSE Educator Newsletter.