NEW YORK CITY - The NorCal Strike Team has been going virtually non-stop since they left for New York last Saturday night.
Thirty EMTs and paramedics, mostly from Sacramento and Stockton, have barely slept. They've been hard at work, helping to evacuate and relocate hospital patients and to assist other emergency crews.
The team is exhausted, averaging about 2 to 4 hours of sleep a night. When they are sleeping, they're sleeping in their ambulances, Task Force Leader Kevin Anderson, of Roseville, said.
Thursday was the first time the NorCal Strike Team got a little bit of down time to get showers and feel a bit more normal, according to Anderson.
The NorCal Strike Team made it on national TV. They were in the middle of Hurricane Sandy, helping to evacuate hundreds of patients from NYU Medical Center.
When crews first arrived, trees were down everywhere they went.
"It made navigating almost impossible because all the bridges were out and you're trying to get to an area that you've never been to before," Anderson said. "Most of Manhattan is without power, without traffic lights. It's quite the eerie site actually."
The NorCal Strike Team's primary mission so far has been to help evacuate and relocate patients.
"So many of these large multi-story large hospitals and convalescent facilities, they're completely without power," Anderson explained.
So, the team has worked side-by-side with the military to move patients to facilities with power within Manhattan.
Anderson called it, "controlled chaos."
The NorCal Strike Team just learned that their week-long stint has been extended. But, members are used to long, exhaustive relief efforts; many of them helped out with Hurricane Katrina.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org