Marshall County First Responders Head to Florida to Help with Hurricane Relief Efforts

MOUNDSVILLE — Local emergency personnel go where they are needed — even when that’s hundreds of miles away.

Late Sunday, a small crew of first responders from Marshall County arrived in Tallahassee, Fla., to assist with relief efforts as Hurricane Irma — since downgraded to a tropical storm — battered the southeastern United States.

In the wake of Irma’s arrival, Emergency Site Protection deployed personnel and resources to aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s response in Florida. ESP sent 12 crew members who departed Saturday evening with five ambulances and one support vehicle to Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Marshall County personnel involved in the effort include Moundsville Assistant Fire Chief Ron Walker, who is also an emergency medical technician for ESP; paramedic Bill Estep and EMT Donald Rickman.

Based in Oklahoma, ESP became licensed in West Virginia in 2015 to provide advanced life support and ambulance services throughout the state. The company opened a Moundsville location in December.

The local responders in Florida could not be reached Monday for comment. Jody LaCoste, public information officer for ESP’s emergency response division, said FEMA requested the company’s help over the weekend. Local volunteers arrived in Tallahassee Sunday evening.

“FEMA requested ESP’s participation in the hurricane response effort Saturday evening,” LaCoste said.

“Officials anticipate widespread impact from this storm and we are bringing the resources we have to bear on the situation and (will) assist the people of Florida in any way we can.”

LaCoste said the company is honored by the work of its personnel in Florida.

“It’s a noble effort and we’re willing to do anything we can to assist the people of Florida,” he said.

Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys Sunday morning, impacting the entire state of Florida as well as Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. At least nine deaths in the U.S. — including six in Florida, two in Georgia and one in South Carolina — have been blamed on Irma, along with more than 30 across the Caribbean islands.