EMS Workers Remember Katrina's Chaos Through Photographs - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

8/28/06-Tyler

EMS Workers Remember Katrina's Chaos Through Photographs

"You saw so much suffering and so much death. When you saw the tarmac at the airport, you just literally saw thosands of people sitting around, doing whatever it took to survive," describes ETMC EMS paramedic Scott Saddler.

The scenes are unforgettable.  And for so many who saw the devastation for themselves, Scott Saddler and Ed Brando will remember one year ago like it was yesterday.

"I was letting [evacuees] use my cell phone to call their family to let them know they were still alive. Whatever you did you just did it," says EMS worker Ed Brando, who was also there.

Brando and Saddler hear the saying that they go in when others go out, but in this case, everybody wanted out.

"It was like seriously being in a war zone. I was on the phone with my wife to let her know that we got there OK and everything, but the helicopters were in and out," says Saddler.

Those who could walk did just that, only to wait to get a bus or a chopper. But many more it seemed couldn't wait.

"People were pulling up with these 18-wheelers and instead of having cargo on, they were filled with patients. They were literally stacked in there like cordwood."

The photos they snapped speak volumes.

"All this here is biohazard, considered biohazard," Brando describes of debris all over the staging area on a large highway.  Brando captured moments of misery on the highway and horror at the airport.

Airport baggage carts were loaded with patients from a nursing home.

"You can see these baggage carts got all these people, but we saw these closed baggage carts, and we opened them up, we found more people.  And here it was as hot as it was, so we were standing there giving them water," Brando says.

There was just nowhere to put everyone -- the old, the too young, babies in incubators.  A year after the massive rescue, Brando and Saddler look back at moments that still seem surreal and the lives lost before them.  

"You'd see a particular person sitting on the ground, leaning up on a pilon, and you'd come back and they were there again, but they had died.  They actually died waiting to get in to get triaged," Saddler says.

Could this happen again?  Both these men say with warning of a storm, and planning, surely not.

"I don't think anyone's just going to let those people sit there. I think people are going to do what they can to get busses, planes, trains and whatever in there to get those people out."

Reported by Morgan Palmer.

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