New Orleans Responders Preparing for Isaac

EMS personnel in New Orleans are busy preparing for an unwelcome guest – Isaac.

Weather officials said Tuesday Isaac had graduated from a Tropical Storm to a Category 1 Hurricane.

“We’re not taking any chances. We have to be ready,” said Jeb Tate, spokesman for New Orleans EMS.

There's a real possibility that Isaac will come ashore on the same day that Katrina did seven years ago. More than 1,800 people perished during her path of destruction and flooding.

The first thing­ local paramedics did over the past few days is move their own offices. Since Katrina, the EMS headquarters are located in FEMA trailers under a bridge.

Tate said it was important that vital equipment necessary during a disaster be moved to a safe location. Computers were among the items that have been set up elsewhere.

“We’re worried about the wind especially,” Tate said, adding that he’s not sure how the trailers would hold up after seven years.

Tate said crews were encouraged to get their personal property secured because they will be on duty for an unknown amount of time.

He added that all personnel will be on the job, and strategically located throughout the city. Trailers stocked with medical supplied also have been placed in various sectors.

Tate said officials are worried now about being without electricity. “We’re concerned about people who depend on power like those on vents and oxygen. I’m worried about our citizens with medical needs.”

Vehicles have been fueled up, and checked as well.

“We’ve been quite busy the last few days as you can imagine,” he said, adding that as of Monday afternoon, no mass evacuations for New Orleans were planned but that could change.

Officials were telling residents the plan is to have them shelter in place.

EMS officials also have been in contact with hospitals and nursing homes to make sure they're also up to speed on plans.

There also are no plans right now to open a mass shelter such as at the Superdome like during Katrina.

Tate said the city is getting ready on all fronts, and keeping a close eye on Isaac’s path.

Also, in Louisiana, Acadian Ambulance crews have evacuated 51 patients from nursing home facilities from Orleans and Plaquemines parishes with 66 more scheduled and 98 pending, officials said.

They also activated its Evacuation Response Operations Center where staff will help coordinate evacuation of health care facilities.

“Currently, Acadian has activated additional ambulance personnel and support staff to coordinate incoming requests,” Jerry Romero, senior vice president of operations said in a prepared statement. “Additional medics are standing by and will be used on an as-needed basis.”

Fuel station depots have been set up in Gretna and Houma where power outages are expected, and an emergency generator has been deployed to Air Med VI stationed in New Orleans.