Local first responders head to Florida to offer aid as Hurricane Ian approaches the Gulf Coast

A VMSC Emergency Medical Services paramedic and EMT left their homes in Lansdale, Pennsylvania Tuesday morning and are in route to Florida to help the communities that have been damaged by major Hurricane Ian.

It's the first deployment for paramedic, Jay Hughes, who is alongside his fellow first responder, Rich Roberts. Hughes says he's never done anything like this before, but people need help, and he feels as if it's his duty to offer that help.

"It's all about helping people, right? That's kinda why we got into this," said Hughes.

FOX 29's Jennifer Joyce spoke with Hughes and Roberts as they were on the road Tuesday afternoon. The local heroes are expected to arrive in Orlando around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. 


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Shane Wheeler, the Chief of VMSC Emergency Medical Services, says he tried to help them mentally prepare to be in the middle of a disaster zone. He says he is confident that they are ready. 

"It's what we do every day. Geography changes, environment changes, but taking care of patients is the same," said Wheeler. 

Passing Hughes and Roberts on the road are many Floridians who are evacuating their homes. Michael Paolini, a South Jersey native, packed his family and all the items he possibly could into their car and hit the road. 

Paolini and his family were forced to evacuate their home in Bradenton, Florida, which is about 45 miles from Tampa. Before leaving, Paolini says he secured their first floor apartment and drove inland to his in-laws, whose home was already protected with metal window guards as they prepare for the extreme weather to come. 

"They haven’t had a hurricane here in a hundred years. I’ve been down here for a year now and a direct hit right on top of my hometown! We’re just watching, watching and hoping," Paolini said.

Depending on the potential damage from Hurricane Ian, Hughes and Roberts could be down in Florida assisting with the clean-up for the next couple of weeks.