Indiana first responders return home from Texas, prepare for Hurricane Irma

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Hoosier first responders traveled back home Tuesday after spending days in Texas, helping in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. But already, some crews are thinking ahead to the potential impact of Hurricane Irma.

About 14 crew members with Heartland Ambulance Service arrived back in Indianapolis Tuesday evening after seeing the devastation in Houston, Sweeny and Beaumont, Texas firsthand. Five more ambulances remain in Sweeny helping with 911 services.

"You look down the streets and you'd be able to see that people had their whole lives out on the streets," said the private company's president, Kenneth Jackson.

"We did a lot of evacuations, transports to the hospitals, we helped evacuate a nursing home," said paramedic Roe Frank.

But now they're getting ready to pack up again. Jackson said companies they work with through FEMA have put them on standby as Hurricane Irma churns over the Atlantic and Florida braces for any potential impact.

"Next steps are to get our equipment in service, check everything out and pack back up as fast as possible and be ready to go," Jackson said.

Other Hoosier first responders are keeping the storm in mind, too.

Indiana Task Force 1’s hazardous material support team got home from Texas Tuesday and its water rescue teams were expected back Wednesday. While they haven't gotten a standby activation, they said they're ready to go if called.

Paramedics with the Buck Creek Township Fire Department said they're staging in San Antonio, and waiting for Irma's arrival and possible next orders.

Veterans from Delaware County helping in Texas and Louisiana have already volunteered to be on standby if needed.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security said its team of DNR conservation officers and IDHS District 4 task force first responders are scheduled to leave Texas Wednesday.

"In regard to Hurricane Irma, at this time IDHS is evaluating requests from Florida through the National Emergency Management Assistance Compact regarding resources. The agency is currently evaluating resources available to determine if Indiana will be able to fill the request," a department spokesperson wrote in a statement to CBS4.

The department is also reminding citizens not to self-deploy during disaster response.

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