EMS maintained service during flood

Published 7:11 am Saturday, April 9, 2016

The flood of March 11 caused many businesses and government agencies to close, but there was one service that could not afford to delay its operations a single minute.

Northshore EMS provides ambulance services to Washington Parish, and its headquarters on Montgomery Street was right in the center of one of the worst flooded areas. But with citizens calling for rescue from water-logged homes and other emergencies, Northshore EMS had to find a quick solution.

“Once we saw that the water was rising, we started to move as much stuff out as we could,” said Bernie Brennan, owner of Northshore EMS.

Brennan said that Northshore EMS employees had to abandon the Montgomery Street location and re-set their emergency communications. Northshore EMS then set up a mobile unit in one of its ambulances to serve as a temporary dispatch headquarters.

“There were so many calls coming in that day,” Brennan said. “Whether it was for regular sicknesses, or calls related to the floods, we were constantly helping with both.”

Brennan said that Ochsner Health System provided tremendous assistance in helping Northshore EMS maintain its operations. Ochsner provided about 10 employees to help during the March 11 chaos.

“They were phenomenal,” he said. “They helped us get moved and allowed me to focus on just making sure everything was getting done.”

In the days following the flood, Northshore EMS moved its temporary location from the mobile ambulance to a more permanent spot at the Old South building on Louisiana Highway 21. Northshore EMS has been in that building since March 11, but plans to return to its Montgomery Street headquarters Monday.

“The main story is that we all pulled together, and everything went really smoothly, even though there was a lot of chaos,” said Brennan, who noted that Northshore EMS has 54 employees and eight ambulances. Like first response agencies, Northshore EMS always has someone awake on all shifts to respond at any time.

Rusty Shoultz, chief flight nurse for Ochsner Flight Care, said that the Ochsner employees were happy to help.

“Northshore EMS is one of our partners,” he said. “When we knew they had some difficulties, we wanted to do whatever we could to assist.

“We never had to shut down operations at any time. During disaster response, that’s the primary goal — to maintain constant operations.”

Brennan noted that Ochsner is just one of the many partners that help Northshore EMS provide medical services. Acadian also provides support with both land-based ambulances, as well as medical flights.

“We all work together to provide the medical services that are needed in our community,” he said.