SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A few paramedics, nurses, and engineers from local hospitals are just getting home from helping to set up a mobile emergency department in Houston, an area hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.
For eight years, Nate Contreras has deployed to areas in need through the National Disaster Medical System. He was one of five medical professionals from Maine to join many others in Texas.
Contreras is a paramedic for the town of Scarborough; he's also a nurse in the Emergency Department of Central Maine Medical Center.
"There were eight or nine hospitals with hundreds of patients that had to evacuate; a lot of them were not mobile or critical patients," Contreras said. "There were no doctors there to see the patients so patients were being treated at paramedic level at the staging point. People are just showing up needing help."
His team quickly learned they were offering much more than help for physical trauma. "They were in a state of shock. Many of them have nothing left," Contreras said of his patients.
"We were fortunate that when we set up our hospital we had a church group help us out with meals, so we were able to feed our patients; give them medical care; give them a personal care kit through donations from the Red Cross and other organizations. They'd get a pillow and they were extremely thankful for even those minimal supplies."
Contreras and the rest of his New England team is keeping an eye on Hurricane Irma. They may be deployed again soon.
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