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Historic flooding prompted a tremendous strain on emergency responders throughout Louisiana. For those in Baton Rouge, the time proved to be historic in terms of their response and help from the public.
"It was a very challenging event," said Michael Chustz, public information officer for Baton Rouge EMS. "We were receiving 911 calls from East Baton Rouge parish as well as surrounding parishes that were rolled over to the EMS 911 center.
For the month of August, there were 68,897 calls to 911, which is a record for the center. On the weekend of the actual flood event, they were getting roughly 6,000 calls per day.
"Request covered all aspects of emergency calls and many were flood-related with some people trapped in homes and cars," Chustz explained. "The EOC was fully staffed and was a tremendous asset to us trying to get to people trapped by flooding."
By comparison, for the same month in 2015, emergency crews responded to 43,186 calls.
"This was a big team event with all the public agencies as well as volunteers from EBR and surrounding areas assisting," Chustz noted. "Saying thanks to all the volunteers is just not enough, we really want them to know how much they were appreciated."
The help from volunteers was critical not only due to the record number of calls, but also because the first responders were dealing with their own tragedy.
"There were EMS medics that flooded and lost everything but still came to work, many of them borrowing uniforms from other medics," Chutstz said. "The community support and teamwork was a huge success."