South Florida Rescue Workers Returning Home After Aiding Hurricane Sandy Victims

Members of Florida Disaster Medical Assistance Team spent two weeks in New York

By Brian Hamacher
|  Monday, Nov 26, 2012  |  Updated 8:57 AM EDT
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Firefighters and other rescue workers from South Florida who went to New York to assist in the Hurricane Sandy aftermath are returning after spending two weeks at a field hospital. Coral Springs Assistant Fire Chief Robert Bertone discusses what the team did in Long Beach.

Firefighters and other rescue workers from South Florida who went to New York to assist in the Hurricane Sandy aftermath are returning after spending two weeks at a field hospital. Coral Springs Assistant Fire Chief Robert Bertone discusses what the team did in Long Beach.

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Firefighters and other rescue workers from South Florida who went to New York to assist in the Hurricane Sandy aftermath are returning after spending two weeks at a field hospital.

Several of the rescue workers, members of the Florida Disaster Medical Assistance Team, returned Sunday and more were expected to arrive Monday.

The group of 42 spent the past two weeks at a field hospital in Long Beach, New York, that was set up after the massive storm swept through the area in October.

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"We took over a hospital set-up and saw between 50-70 patients every day," Coral Springs Assistant Fire Chief Robert Bertone said. "The people were extremely grateful for us being there which made it a very rewarding experience for all of our crew."

Bertone, who was with one of the first groups to arrive home Sunday, said Long Beach had been battered by 90 mph winds and was under 6-8 feet of water for several hours at the height to the storm.

"There was destruction all over but the worst destruction you couldn't really see from the outside," he said.

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Bertone was one of 42 on the team, which also included mental health workers.

"A lot of people were emotionally in shock, and as we began to treat, in a lot of cases relatively minor injuries, the emotional toll began to come out and our mental health team that we have attached to us did a tremendous job just helping these people get their bearings and get their lives started again," Bertone said.

Bertone said many in the area were unprepared, he described the storm as "unprecedented."

"We were really honored and proud to be able to be up there and serve people," Bertone said. "I'm glad we were there, I'm glad were were there for everyone and I think we're all proud of the job we did."

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