Lyons, SD – Rosenbauer America, based in Lyons, SD, Wyoming, MN and Fremont, NE, has announced the return of “Team Rosenbauer Rescue” from the stricken areas left by Hurricane Katrina.
On Monday August 29, at the request of Rosenbauer’s Eric Saulsbury, a New York State Rosenbauer distributor, Rosenbauer approved funding of $10,000 to support a team providing apparatus, equipment and repair support to fire and police departments in the Gulf Coast area. Providing disaster assistance in untenable situations is not something new to Saulsbury and his team, as he had previously been involved in the events of September 11 at the World Trade Centers in NYC. The 9-11 team became intimately familiar with the logistical coordination required to conduct this type of operation.
After receiving credentials and clearance for supporting Louisiana Agencies, Team Rosenbauer Rescue deployed a new apparatus staffed with six firefighters from Aurelius, Scipio, and Cortlandville NY Fire Department volunteers and coordinator Saulsbury. They carried sufficient food and equipment to support a minimum 10-day operation.
After the area first responders realized the magnitude and the resulting widespread devastation, the Rosenbauer team was paired up with the Denham Springs LA Fire Department, under the direction of Chief Ivy “Woody” Cortrer, Incident Commander Melvin Wheat and Logistics Coordinator Alvie Bankston. While en route to Louisiana, they advised the role of the team had changed. It was requested that they provide equipment for direct search and rescue operations due to the lack of boats and manpower in the affected areas.
Day one found the Rosenbauer team split into two teams. Team one deployed with a Denham Springs group to the Chalmette/St. Bernard area. They operated with the Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Division for boat supported rescue operations where significant storm surge had submerged a vast majority of the Parish. Team 2 was deployed with another Denham Springs FD group to the devastated Slidell area to support efforts of the Slidell Fire Department. The Slidell Fire Department was operating out of a single station as their other eight firehouses were untenable. In the face of danger (sometimes from the citizens protecting their property) teams searched house to house for survivors in a maze of complete devastation.
The seven-day balance of Operation Rosenbauer Rescue was coordinated and deployed through the New Orleans Police Department command center located at Harrah’s Casino in downtown New Orleans. The Rosenbauer teams and the Denham Springs Fire Department members, were successful in rescuing more than 60 victims from their flooded homes. Most rescues occurred in the 9th Ward District of New Orleans, many of which were elderly or handicapped victims requiring airlifts through U.S.C.G. or U.S. Marine Blackhawk helicopters.