By ERIN ROLL
Three Montclair EMTs are in the Caribbean to help with recovery efforts from this fall’s hurricanes.
The Montclair Ambulance Unit is one of several first responder teams from New Jersey that have sent EMTs to the U.S. Virgin Islands to assist with hurricane relief.
The first responder teams are all part of the New Jersey State EMS Task Force.
MAU Deputy Chief Frank Carlo told Montclair Local that the MAU had sent three of its members, as well as some of its specialty vehicles, to assist with recovery efforts. He said he had not heard from those members since their departure last week, due to spotty communication in the islands because of the hurricanes.
Carlo said that the MAU could not identify the squad members who were deployed to the Virgin Islands until they return, citing security guidelines from the Office of Emergency Management.
The team is based primarily in St. Thomas and St. John, Carlo said.
This is the first time that the New Jersey State EMS Task Force has deployed members to a location outside of the continental United States. Carlo noted that Montclair has six members on the task force; most EMS units in New Jersey have only three or four members.
St. Thomas and St. John were among the islands battered by a hurricanes Irma and Maria, Category 5 storms that struck the Caribbean in September.
The team deployed to the Virgin Islands on Oct. 1. Much of its work involves assisting local hospitals and EMS units in re-establishing services that were interrupted because of the hurricane.
The visiting EMTs will also help with community outreach and responding to calls.
Montclair also provided one of its ASAP ambulances: an ATV that is outfitted with medical equipment. The ASAP ambulances are especially needed, Carlo said, because they can access areas that regular ambulances can’t because of washed-out roads and downed trees.
The task force’s deployment may be extended by another week, depending on circumstances.
“It’s unfortunate that the islands are absolutely devastated, so they need all the help they can get,” Carlo said.