CHARLESTON, W.Va. - An ambulance call in West Virginia is just like an ambulance call in New Jersey.
That's the logic that sent 13 first responders and five ambulances from Kanawha County to New Jersey Monday morning as Hurricane Sandy made its way up the East Coast, gaining strength along the way.
The team from the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority left at 3 a.m. and will spend the next week or so in New Jersey, which is expected to see some of the worst damage from the Category 1 storm.
This isn't the first time teams have rushed to assist with a national disaster: EMS teams from Kanawha County were also sent to help after Hurricanes Gustav, Rita and Katrina. And Mike Jarrett, public information officer for the Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, said out-of-state calls are part of their regular business.
These calls are part of the authority's ongoing contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency - when a natural disaster hits, the authority sends emergency response vehicles and professionals to help. (They get paid for their help, but Jarrett says just how much "gets settled later.")
The 13 employees and five ambulances sent out to cover the storm area are only a small part of the authority's total force. It has more than 40 ambulances and 200 people on staff who are trained to do emergency response.
"So this isn't taking away from Kanawha County at all," Jarrett said. "We're running every call there we have right now."
Even if the storm causes problems back home in Kanawha County, he said, they should have enough staff and vehicles to respond appropriately.
It's because the agency is so robust that they were able to procure this contract with FEMA. The team of responders they sent to this or other natural disasters is highly trained and has a slew of certifications for this kind of task.
"You put those guys out there, they'll run their guts out," Jarrett said. "They'll work."
And when they get back to Kanawha County, they'll have experience working within a massive, unified command structure, all things they can put to good use back home.
"You've got to prove yourself," Jarrett said. "And then you can come teach us back here, and we can get better."
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.