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October 30, 2012

Purdue in the heart of the recovery effort in New Jersey

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Four from Purdue are in the eye of the Hurricane Sandy rescue efforts near Atlantic City, N.J.

Three of the four are paramedics from the Purdue Fire Department who left their reinforced bunkers in 80 mph winds 30 minutes before Sandy hit the area to tend to those in two temporary shelters. One of the shelters housed about 160 evacuees with medical needs - some were from a nursing home and others had to be moved from their shelter to hospitals in the storm.

On Tuesday (Oct. 30) the Purdue responders will be on hand to provide medical assistance in support of "swift water rescue" and 911 efforts in the area, said Purdue Fire Chief Kevin Ply.

Jefferson Howells, Purdue's assistant director of emergency preparedness, is the fourth member of the university's volunteer crew. He is serving as the deputy emergency medical services strike force commander at a command center in nearby Egg Harbor, N.J., helping with planning and operations management.

"As members of the Purdue community, our staff trains to provide emergency response to local disasters," said Carol Shelby, senior director of environmental health and public safety. "We are proud to be asked to assist in the response to hurricane Sandy. This is a solemn reminder that we must continue to engage the Purdue community in emergency preparedness."

The volunteers are part of Indiana Homeland Security's District IV nine-county area that sent 22 people and 11 vehicles, including four ambulances, to join the effort. The responders grouped with others from Indiana to form a 44-vehicle convoy with 107 personnel that left Indiana on Sunday (Oct. 28) and arrived in New Jersey early Monday (Oct. 29) morning.

The Purdue team is expected back late Thursday (Nov. 1) unless the mission is extended.

"We believe Indiana was one of the first, if not the first, state to respond to the request for aid from the East Coast," Joe Wainscott, director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, said earlier in a news release. "We are constantly planning, training and preparing our emergency response resources so they can be readily available to assist our citizens in Indiana and others in their time of need."

Writer: Jeanne Norberg, 765-494-2084; jnorberg@purdue.edu

Source: Kevin Ply, 765-494-6919, kmply@purdue.edu