OLYMPICS Local medical team pitches in for Games
By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Roger Bair makes a daily habit of being more aware and alert since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
That attitude will follow him when he goes to Salt Lake City, Utah, next week as part of a medical team trained to deal with any possible disaster.
"Terrorism in the U.S. is far from over with," said Bair, deputy commander of the Northeast Ohio Disaster Medical Assistance Team. "There's going to be more of it. There's no doubt. And we're going to be ready."
Bair and two other members of the Northeast Ohio team leave Feb. 14 for an 11-day stint at the 2002 Winter Olympics site. They'll train and be on hand in case there's an emergency.
"If there is a major disaster, be it man-made or natural, we will be part of the team to do it," said Bair, a Lordstown firefighter and emergency medical technician.
Other medics: Also headed to Salt Lake City are Thomas R. Baughman, a paramedic who works with the Columbiana Emergency Medical Service, and Mike Kerr, a Hubbard firefighter and educator at St. Elizabeth Health Center, where he also works as a paramedic.
They are part of 400 medical workers and support staff from around the country who will be sent in two deployments to staff 30 medical teams that will be on standby at the games.
They'll train for nuclear, biological and chemical disasters and serve as backup to Salt Lake City medical personnel.
The local DMAT is one of 60 across the country that are part of the U.S. Office of Emergency Preparedness, said the team's public information officer, Tricia A. Cruz of Petersburg.
There are roughly 90 members on the local team's roster, with 30 to 40 who are active, she said. Many are employees at St. Elizabeth, which sponsors the team.
Since the team's establishment in 1991, members have served during several disasters and events, including the World Trade Center attack, the 2000 "Sail Boston" event, the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and three hurricane sites.
Team members volunteer their time for training and meetings. Once deployed, they are paid through federal funds.
'Reach out and help': Deputy Commander Doug D. Broderick recalls driving into South Carolina as everyone else was driving out during Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Broderick, of Austintown, works in the engineering and management department at St. Elizabeth. He also served at the Boston event.
"I think this is my own way of doing something for people that I've never had the opportunity to do before," Broderick said. "You always see people in disasters and want to reach out and help. This is a way to do that."
Dr. Larry Woods, a cardiologist who directs critical-care services at St. Elizabeth, is the team's commander. He said the team also includes people from all walks of life who also serve the local community.
"It's good for the community," Dr. Woods said. "It's something actively that we can take part in that has a lot of value. People can contribute in many ways."
Darlene Brown, a computer specialist from Poland, was the first woman in the team's communications division. After work at the World Trade Center site, she has been drafted to serve on a national disaster team.
Jo Jones of Boardman, a St. Elizabeth home-care nurse, helped out at the Office of Emergency Preparedness after the Sept. 11 attacks and has since been asked to teach at a national conference this spring.
"I think it's really important that we be prepared to help out in a time of crisis," Jones said. "With all the employees pulled together, we have a team of people very eager to be helpful."