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DeKalb County ambulance service prepares for hurricane season

"Because of COVID, last year and this year, FEMA put an additional requirement on us to make sure all of our people met this specific standard for respiratory protection training," said Leslie Behringer, DeKalb Ambulance Service Compliance Officer.

Posted: Jul 1, 2021 6:09 PM
Updated: Jul 1, 2021 7:22 PM

Right now, one North Alabama ambulance service is preparing in case it’s needed during hurricane season.

"Nobody plans the hurricanes, we just plan to be ready for them," said Leslie Behringer, DeKalb Ambulance Service Compliance Officer.

In case of a natural disaster like a hurricane, crews here at DeKalb Ambulance Service are ready to go. That's because they recently had the training they need so that when FEMA calls, they're ready to respond.

"Because of COVID, last year and this year, FEMA put an additional requirement on us to make sure all of our people met this specific standard for respiratory protection training," said Behringer. 

WAAY 31's Sophia Borrelli was able to go through that respiratory protection training Thursday to see what it's like. 

"We trained you on the respirator, what the hazards are, how to put it on, how to inspect it and then we put you in the respirator and put the paper bag over your head and we spray smelly stuff inside the paper bag and with the respirator on, we get you to move your head this way and you turn and you talk out loud and you bend over and you run in place and you do all these exercises," said Behringer.

Behringer said this training is crucial since ambulance crews can’t afford to get sick during a deployment. 

If a hurricane threatens Gulf Coast areas, crews know what to do. 

"If a hurricane is going to come near Pensacola, there's hospitals in Pensacola, and there's nursing homes, and there's group homes and there's assisted living and those people all have to get out and they can't get on a bus.

"So we and lots of other companies from literally all over the country come down and we load up everyone in the hospital and we take them 200 miles inland and put them in a different hospital and then when the storm's over, we load them all up and take them all back," said Behringer.

She says right now they are watching Tropical Storm Elsa which could enter the Gulf of Mexico as soon as next week. 

"Hurricane deployments are very stressful and they're a lot of work ... None of us would be in EMS if we didn't love helping people," said Behringe. 

DeKalb Ambulance Service makes sure the local community has the resources they need first, before deploying crews to different parts of the country.

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