N.Y. peers recognize sacrifices made by Brookhaven paramedics

Published 5:00 am Friday, May 19, 2006

A delegation of Brookhaven paramedics from the King’s DaughtersMedical Center ambulance service recently traveled to Brookhaven,N.Y., to receive recognition for their efforts during HurricaneKatrina.

The trip marks an ongoing relationship between the EmergencyMedical Services (EMS) of each town initiated after thedisaster.

“We felt it was important to have them here to allow thecommunity to meet them, show our appreciation and to send them backhome with a message of support from our community to yours,” saidGreg Miglino, Chief of the South Country Ambulance Service inBellport, N.Y. “We also wanted to let them know that we will behere should ever another problem arise.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

A delegation of six Bellport paramedics assisted the KDMCambulance service during the week of Sept. 9-16. During the daysfollowing Katrina, the KDMC call volume rose from eight to 25 callsa day.

The New York paramedics ran calls in the city while theMississippi paramedics went to the Gulf Coast on shifts to provideassistance. During the week, the two groups of paramedics ran callstogether and developed a close bond during the long hours of sharedservice.

“Obviously, we felt a kinship with our sister city ofBrookhaven, Miss. Unfortunately, only six of us could come down,”Miglino said.

Miglino was appreciative of the service that all Mississippiansgave during the disaster. He wanted to repay them.

“After they came down, Greg called us about an awards ceremony,”said Kim Nelson, with the KDMC ambulance service.

The KDMC delegation was taken aback by the kindnesses shown tothem during their visit.

“At a dinner for 250 people we were recognized and given aplaque,” Nelson said. “They gave us a standing ovation and wereceived certificates for outstanding courage for our communityefforts.”

Nelson, along with fellow Brookhaven paramedics Blythe Jinks,Jim Price and Kim Price, flew to Bellport, N.Y., and were givenfirst-class treatment.

“We didn’t pay for anything,” Nelson said.

Their hosts made sure they had everything they needed,introduced them to elected officials and gave them an extensivetour of the area.

“They tried to show us the most they could in the short time wewere there,” Nelson said.

Miglino and company took the delegation on a 120-mile trekincluding New York City, Setauket, Long Island, and Montauk.

Miglino introduced the group to Brian Foley, supervisor ofBrookhaven, N.Y., which contains about 500,000 residents. Foleyalso supervises Setauket, Long Island, the hometown of Brookhaven’sfounding father.

KDMC delegates presented Foley with a City of Brookhaven flag.He received it on behalf of the members of the Setauket, LongIsland, community.

In turn, Foley designated Dec. 24 as Brookhaven, Miss., Day.

The group also met Frank Trotta, mayor of Bellport, N.Y. Thevillage of Bellport is about one hour away from New York City andis the hometown of the South Country Ambulance Company. Trottadesignated April 1 as Brookhaven, Miss. Day.

The experience left a profound impression upon the KDMCambulance service. The group was particularly impressed with thequality of the New York ambulance services.

“They have a lot of communication among first responders,”Nelson said. “Everybody knows everybody.”

The delegates went on a driving tour of local fire departmentsand first responders. The town has “a fire department every mileand a half.” Each of these departments gave the Brookhavenresponders a warm reception.

On their off time, emergency responders spend time with oneanother and share much in common. Of course, members of theambulance company in Bellport don’t have a lot of free time.

“All these guys are volunteers,” Jinks said.

Others also were impressed with the degree of commitmentvolunteer paramedics have.

“The dedication their medics have is amazing. It’s somethingthey want to do. They’re working a 40-hour week somewhere else.They get a call in the middle of the night and they go,” Kim Pricesaid.

But perhaps the delegates were most impressed with the supportthe ambulance company has from community members.

“The biggest thing was their community involvement,” Kim Pricesaid. “They really support their EMS, they don’t see them as just aride to the hospital.”

Community involvement is evident in that Miglino is thecompany’s only paid emergency responder. All other responders servethe public out of their own time and resources.

The relationship between the two agencies began from a chanceoccurance shortly before the August disaster.

Miglino was in New Orleans the Sunday before Hurricane Katrinastruck.

“I didn’t have a vehicle. So I hitchhiked out to Memphis,”Miglino said.

On his way to Memphis via Interstate 55, Miglino saw theBrookhaven welcome sign. The sign sparked a memory.

During the early ’90s Miglino was looking for an ambulanceservice to which he could donate equipment. He stumbled uponBrookhaven, Miss., and discovered that fellow New Yorker SamuelJayne from nearby Setauket, N.Y., founded Brookhaven, Miss., in1818. Miglino works in Bellport, N.Y., one of many villages locatedwithin Brookhaven, N.Y.

As Miglino passed the sign, he knew he had not seen the last ofBrookhaven, Miss.

“I said, ‘If this thing hits these people, we’re coming back tohelp,'” Miglino said.

Although they thoroughly enjoyed their trip, the delegates wereglad to return to their own Brookhaven.

“It’s definitely not Mississippi.” Jinks said. “It like the signsays, Mississippi is a great place to visit but an even betterplace to live.”