Local EMT answers longtime friend's call to assist and heads to the disaster area with supplies and expertise
BY THERESA VARGAS
September 3, 2005
Duffel bags bulging with medical equipment and air mattresses, Dix Hills native Seth Komansky left MacArthur Airport in Islip for Baton Rouge Friday. He was not sure where he would go or if he was prepared for what he would find.
"Prepared?" the 22-year-old emergency medical technician said, pausing. "I'm as prepared as I'm going to be."
His voice was a mix of uncertainty and confidence. Uncertainty because he was flying toward the devastation others were fleeing in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Confident that he had no choice but to go once his friend Andrew Jahier, also a Dix Hills native and EMT, asked for help.
Jahier, 21, a Tulane University student, has been coordinating evacuations and providing medical aid at a Baton Rouge stadium turned triage center. Buses filled with the sick and injured arrive by the hour from New Orleans, he said, filled with 70 people at a time.
"We could definitely use the help," Jahier said, in a phone interview Friday. "No one can ever imagine what it's like down here unless you see it."
Komansky and a fellow EMT from Franklin Pierce College in Rindge, N.H., Michael Jusseaume, 23, were scheduled to arrive at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"From inside, it's something I know I had to do," Komansky said. "On a personal level I know it's a difficult situation and it's affecting Andrew directly."
The two men met as children on a school bus, and at age 14 both joined the junior Dix Hills Fire Department. In college, both headed student-led Emergency Medical Service organizations.
Jahier is exhausted, Komansky said. "He's doing shifts from 4 in the morning to 2 in the morning, sleeping an hour and half and getting up and doing it again."
Knowing his son has been camping out on the floor of a dormitory at Louisiana State University, Jahier's father, Jeff, cleaned out the supply of 10 air mattresses at a sporting goods store before Komansky's flight.
Komansky's two other duffel bags contained medical supplies, sunscreen and sanitizer.
"We're obviously worried parents," Jeff Jahier said. "But he's doing what he wants to do and he's very dedicated to it so you can't stand in his way."
While a canister of oxygen didn't make it past airport security, the homemade brownies from Jahier's mom did.
Copyright (c) 2005, Newsday, Inc.