BOSTON (CBS) – They’re happy to be home after spending three grueling weeks providing health care to victims of two hurricanes. About 20 members of a disaster medical team arrived in Boston Friday, fresh from deployments in Florida and Puerto Rico.
They looked a little weary making their way to baggage claim at Logan Airport. “Glad to be home, glad to be home,” says paramedic Keith Bentley.
The team is called DMAT MA-2, a disaster assistance medical team with nurses, EMTs, and other medical pros, all from Massachusetts. “Sometimes it’s a medical task, sometimes it’s an evacuation task, sometimes it’s a nursing task,” says physician’s assistant Bert Drexler.
Starting at the beginning of September, it was all three. They went to Florida first to help people after Hurricane Irma. After eight days there, “We were actually preparing to turn around and come back,” says team leader Gina Smith.
Then Hurricane Maria roared toward Puerto Rico, so that’s where they went next, arriving just before the monster storm hit. “Then we got to essentially ride out the storm and shelter in place in a parking garage of all places,” Keith Bentley says.
Then they went to work, setting up a field hospital in the parking lot of a trauma center in San Juan. “To take the extra patients that may have come in and also to decompress their emergency department by taking some patients who probably could have gone home, if they had a home to go home to,” Smith says.
The team wrapped up their mission this week after doing a lot of good. We’ve all heard about the logistical nightmares moving people and supplies around Puerto Rico, well, this team was affected as well.
They had to wait about five days before they could get on a flight off the island.