For paramedics, 92 non-stop hours on the front lines
They’re a lifeline for the most vulnerable
Paramedics Will Roberts and Isolde Cabanas have been on duty for 92 hours straight, living through the nightmare left by Hurricane Harvey.
Both work for Acadian Ambulance, a private company that operates in 34 Louisiana parishes and in 37 counties in Texas. Acadian responders such as Roberts and Cabanas are on the front lines, saving the most vulnerable of disaster victims.
The job has taken a toll. “I have blisters all over my feet from not changing my boots for two days,” Cabanas said. “My feet were always wet, and as soon as they’d dry, we had to get back into high water again.”
Rogers said the two have been answering non-stop emergency calls, responding to patients in renal failure unable to get dialysis, to head injuries and cardiac arrests.
“There have been a lot of slip and falls also,” Roberts said. “Especially the elderly. They are trapped in doors and have to fend for themselves, no one to care for them, and that’s what happens. “
Cabanas, 28, who lives in Pasadena, has been a paramedic for seven years. Since Harvey hit, she has gotten plenty of experience with high-water response. On one call, she evacuated a patient from a flooded neighborhood on Pasadena’s north side by ambulance. When water got too high for the ambulance, the patient was transferred to a dump truck, and, finally, to a boat before reaching a hospital.
“All you’re concerned about is the patient and getting them what they need,” she said. “Afterward, adrenaline goes down, and it gets emotional. I really didn’t get tired until yesterday. … I went in one of the rooms and crashed for four hours.”
Finn Brouillet and Jaime Larrea are fresh off a 36-hour shift. The two-man crew has been fielding emergency calls the entire time, responding to everything from patients having seizures to traumatic injuries.
But Brouillet and Larrea considered themselves lucky. “The
“All you’re concerned about is the patient and getting them what they need. Afterward, adrenaline goes down, and it gets emotional. ”
Paramedic Isolde Cabanas
crew we relieved had been out for four or five days, “Brouillet said.
In Pasadena, more than 30 calls were lined up, he said. Emergency operators had to triage calls. Patients in dialysis had nowhere to go. Hospitals in Pasadena were closed.
Acadian Operations Supervisor Jordan Wells said a typical shift in Pasadena involves an average of 14 emergency calls.
These days are not typical, he said: “Shifts like that mean no downtime or sleep or rest.”