Local First Responders back from helping Sandy Victims - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

Local First Responders back from helping Sandy Victims


Over a dozen police and fire personnel from Michiana spent the last two weeks helping in the wake of SuperStorm Sandy.  And they certainly have stories to share.  These local emergency workers were part of an Incident Management Team.  They were sent by the The Indiana Department of Homeland Security.  They were originally sent to Baltimore but then deployed to Long Beach New York.  That's a barrier Island off Long Island that was hit pretty hard by Sandy.In the pictures they brought back home with them you can see the sand everywhere.  Penn Fire Battalion Chief Al Kirsits said, "the whole infrastructure was knocked out.  There was no fresh water, no sewage, no electricity and no cell phones."

And to deal with all of that and help people living on he island each person had their own job.
Gary Horvath in a Division Chief with the South Bend Police Department.  In New York he was an incident commander working with government officials to make sure people got what they needed.  "Each and everyday just trying to have one little success story," said Horvath.

Al Kirsits was in charge of getting information out.  And he had to revert to an old school way of doing that.  Printing a daily newsletter and walking the sand filled streets to hand deliver it.  "To alert people to what was going on cause there was no cell phone, there was no electricity and people were kinda starved for information," said Kirsits.

Duke Gluchowski in a Captain with Clay Fire in Michiana.  In New York he was a medical unit leader.  After the only hospital on the island was flooded... this trolley was where people went for medical attention.  Gluchowski said, "if someone got sick or hurt we'd send them to the trolley first and then depending on how serious it was we'd have to shut down the street to have a helicopter come in to transport them."

They all admit the 16 hour long days were physically and emotionally draining.  But they had a job to do. "Once you see people and help people that's why you're doing this.  It makes it all kind of come together," said Gluchowski.

Wednesday Mayor Pete Buttigieg thanked them for their hard work.  He said South Bend will benefit from their service.  "To have thee police and fire personnel get that hands on experience helping in a serious disaster means that if God forbid anything were to happen here in South Bend they'll be that much more prepared," said Buttigieg.


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