It's paramedic Pat Stewart's first day back to work in Essex after volunteering in storm-torn New York and New Jersey.
"We were deployed for about seven days total," he says.
Essex Rescue has a government contract with FEMA and offers aid when they can during natural disasters. Pat and his partner, Greg Wolf, were initially dispatched to an air force base in New Jersey but were rerouted when Superstorm Sandy hit New York City.
"What a drive that was," he says.
The team recorded cell phone video of their treacherous drive to Manhattan.
"It's not everyday you see New York City black," they said.
The team was headed to New York University. The hospital there lost power and hundreds of patients needed to be evacuated. The Essex crew helped the city's responders and ambulance teams from around the county get everyone out safely.
"It was just an amazing sight to see everything working so well together and flawlessly," Stewart says.
In the days that followed, the Essex paramedics joined 300 other rescue crews at a staging area in Brooklyn. They took turns evacuating more patients, this time from Bellevue Hospital.
"It's great for us to come down there and provide that kind of care for that we don't even know," Stewart says.
During the entire deployment, they would unroll sleeping bags and catch a few hours of sleep where they could.
"I'm very proud of the work they're doing," says Essex Rescue Executive Director Dan Manz. "In a big disaster no states got enough resources to be able to mount the response."
Manz is big believer in mutual aid, as long as service to his own coverage area isn't compromised.
"It means people work a little harder around here," Manz says. "Folks are pulling a lot of extra hours but everybody here is pitching in as part of supporting our deployment to New York."
"We brought together a piece of the puzzle," Stewart says.
A new team has relieved Pat and his partner. Essex Rescue will continue their storm relief rotation until mid November.
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