Upon returning to work at Station 35 under Woodhull Hospital, Technician Adon is unable to escape the spectre of the Tremblor. He watches the pictures flash over the telescreen bolted within the 7-11 on Atlantic Ave. It was like 911 times 10,000. No one had any idea how many were dead, how many were wounded, and how many were trapped under the rubble buried alive.
His phone rings as he watches bodies pile up on the evening news. It’s his friend and comrade Mickhi Dbrisk. A Jamaican EMT he went to school with and helped found the Banshee Association. A close friend.
“If we had a way to be in Port-Au-Prince in the next 48 hours would you go?” Dbrisk asks him over the cellular.
How could he say no? He’d been training for this moment all his life. This was the “other shoe falling” to him, 9-11 they always talked about 9-11 in LaGuardia EMS School and at the FDNY Academy. The other shoe, the next big Jihad thing. That killed 3,000 people in 2001, the September 11th terror attacks; this killed maybe 300,000 or more, said the news. It wasn’t a deadly contest. This was just a much bigger shoe.
“Just find us a way onto that island brother,” Sebastian replies.
“Hey brother, that work is already done. Meet me over at Greene Street later. You know where I’m talking about right, them Bedstuy Volunteers have a plan to get down there. 727, the lot.”
That’s the address of the Bedford Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
There’s this purposeful, yet basic looking shed in a lot on 727 Greene Street, it’s an ugly white neglected structure and sometimes there is one ambulance parked outside it. Sometimes two, but legally speaking they can only operate one at a time. And mechanically speaking only one even works.
This is the HQ of the Bedford Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corporation; the city’s only minority run volunteer ambulance. They are constantly broke, constantly begging, constantly sneaking up on shots and stab calls with clown cars worth of 6 to 7 EMTs rolling out of nowhere. Sebastian Adon, for one, found them to be highly amusing if not efficient back up to 37 Bravo, his unit, amongst the top 5 busiest 911 trucks in 2010, by FDNY internal statistics.
Their website reads:
“The Bedford-Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Corps (BSVAC), the nation’s first minority-run volunteer ambulance corps, was founded in 1988 by two EMS workers, Captain James “Rocky” Robinson and Specialist Joe Perez. The creation of BSVAC was their response to the crisis in emergency medical service that afflicts New York’s minority communities.
“As in other minority communities, many residents of Bed-Stuy do not have health insurance (not true, everyone in New York does). As a result, they are less likely to visit the doctor’s office for routine care or for treatment in the early stages of disease (Their own choice, there are clinic everywhere). At the same time, African-American men and women suffer disproportionately from high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, heart attacks and strokes. These factors lead to a disproportionate number of emergency room visits; 75% of all emergency medical calls in New York City come from minority neighborhoods (Where they got that number god only knows).”
“In continuous operation since 1988, BSVAC is the busiest volunteer ambulance service for its size in the nation (an ambulance of 1), answering over 100 calls per month (Which is not that much compared to say 37B which answers around 14 per day; so let’s call that about 420 per month and we sit next to them).”
For its size means that it has only one functioning ambulance. It’s very easy to talk a lot of trash about the BSVAC, so better to embrace them with a ‘god bless you for trying’ which is what Borough President Marty Markowitz did when he bought them a little trailer to base their Greene street operations out of.
On January 12th, a quake of 7.0 magnitude ripped apart the city of Carrefour killing nearly god knows how many people outright and burying an additional tens of thousands under the rubble, thereby creating an evolving MCI that would cause traumatic injury to and additional tens of thousands in a nation lacking even a rudimentary EMS system.
On January 12th, just four hours after the ramifications of the quake were reported, the Bedford Stuyvesant Volunteer Ambulance Company (BSVAC); a single ambulance outfit, self styled as the nation’s only minority run ambulance service decided to respond to the disaster in the event that the world would be unwilling or unable. BSVAC went on Channel 12 and 1010 Winds and announced that if anyone who was willing with medical training to respond to the disaster in Haiti showed up at their door, BSVAC would find a way to get them on the ground to Port Au Prince. They didn’t have an actual plan though. Like the very first responders at 9/11 they were moved by a duty to act. Their volunteers mobilized immediately as did over 104 mostly Haitian America medical workers who answered their call. If later they could be accused of capitalizing off a disaster and endangering civilians, well, they were. But it came from a noble, if not righteous place. Based solely in the realm of heroic idealism they sought to succeed in being of service. Perhaps the Nation’s only existing all Black ambulance corps needed on some visceral level to aid the world’s first black republic.
By December 16th exactly 104 volunteers, 14 from the BSVAC network and 90 assorted medical professionals boarded a Vision charter airline paid for by the Church of Scientology. Yes, you read that right. The Church of Scientology footed the bill, the Haitian Physicians Abroad (AMHE) provided the doctors and nurses and the Bed Stuy Volunteer Ambulance Corps the brand and the staging area.
Staffed with a motley crew ranging from the East Norwich Volunteer Fire Company, forty Kreyol speaking CNSs, Nurses and Doctors from the Haitian Physicians Association (AMHE) as well as EMTs and Paramedics from Transcare, AMR, Assist, and FDNY both Fire and EMS side. As well as a handful of creepy but endearing Scientologist volunteers covering the gamut of disaster relief specialists, nurses and midwives. 104 strangers were to board that plane, which following a layover in Miami touched down on a desolate and newly reclaimed airstrip in the Port Au Prince on December 17th. At 17:00 we landed in Toussaint L’Ouverture International Airport and the stench of death lingered in the air.
As the world froze for a week and the media gawked awkwardly at this catastrophe, over a hundred women and men were to enlist for immediate action with the BSVAC-AMHE-Scientologist International Medical Brigade. Most of BSVAC’s own people didn’t even have passports, so they were in truth sending a brigade of near total strangers in their name. At least the majority of which spoke Haitian Kreyol, and some, at least in theory, had fourth dimensional powers facilities by extraterrestrials. The remainder at least, are EMTs and Paramedics.