Two county firefighters left for New York City on Thursday to bring supplies to emergency personnel dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Mark Powers, chief of the Chautauqua Volunteer Fire Department, and Seth Strahan, captain of the Brocton Fire Department, were met by Chautauqua County executive Gregory J. Edwards and Julius Leone Jr., Emergency Services director, at Station 7 in Mayville to load a 16-foot cube truck with supplies to help aid fire departments in New York City and New Jersey.
According to Strahan, he was contacted by Ryan Gunning, president of the Glendale Volunteer Ambulance Corps, with a request for emergency aid for personnel who have run out of supplies or had equipment destroyed by the hurricane.
Pictured are Seth Strahan, captain of the Brocton Fire Department and Mark Powers, Chief of the Chautauqua Volunteer Fire Department, who met at Station 7 in Mayville to load a 16 foot cube truck with supplies to help aid fire departments in New York City and New Jersey.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
"I received a cry for supplies that said if we have anything, they will take everything," said Strahan. "Their guys are walking around in sewage-stained turnout gear with no opportunity to clean it because no one has backup sets of gear. They were without power, lost most of their breathing apparatus and were out of medical supplies because their storerooms got flooded. So, I came up with a couple of boxes of medical supplies to donate. But, then thought that I should utilize the county by contacting Julius Leone to see if he could put a message out to all the fire chiefs to see what we could collect."
After Leone sent out the message, donations from various fire departments and organizations throughout the county came pouring in, said Strahan. The inventory included items such as: 75 sets of turnout gear; gurney pads; water rescue gear; three chainsaws from Zahm and Matson; 100 pairs of cold-weather work gloves and a chainsaw from Home Depot; 70 backpacks, jumpsuits and a plethora of medical gear from the county.
"As far as medical gear we have everything that you'd find in the back of an ambulance, and at this point we could probably outfit about 50 ambulances," said Strahan.
Strahan planned on arranging transportation of the supplies, but fortunately monetary donations were received from Chautauqua Institution that paid for the rental fee of the truck. In addition, Penske and Home Depot subsidized the cost of the rental truck to less than half of what it normally would have cost, Strahan said.
Edwards, who attended the send-off, hosted a presentation, helped load the truck and acquired some of the funds to pay for fuel and tolls, added Powers.
According to Strahan, the area they are headed to is dealing with more than 10 inches of snow, many are still without power or heat and there is a gridlock because of a lack of fuel within a 20-mile radius of Queens.
"We're imagining that we may be wrangled into the efforts as Mark Powers and I are both emergency medical technicians and firefighters," said Strahan. "However, our goal is to get in and drop off the gear. If we're needed we're going to help out. But, we haven't been requested by the incident command system to come into their network. But, our boys don't have gear right now, and they can't do their job. So, everything in our truck is ready for service and ready for use."