EMT paddles to the rescue


Jennifer Maloney | | Monday, August 13, 2007

Ambulance crews couldn't get to a pregnant woman in distress whose Flushing home was surrounded by flood water yesterday.

So a couple of enterprising emergency medical technicians flagged down a pair of kayakers who happened to be paddling down 153rd Street.

"We were like, 'Hey, this'll work,'" said Robert McAuley, 33, a Jamaica Hospital Medical Center EMT, who with his partner and New York police were struggling to reach the house.

McAuley, who had never before piloted a kayak, commandeered one of the boats, paddled about 150 feet to the woman's house and began treating her for obstetric complications. He and other emergency responders then helped her board the second kayak for the short trip back to the ambulance.

"I was just as nervous as the patient was, probably," McAuley said of the woman, who was treated at New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens in Flushing and released. "When we got back to dry land, you could tell she was relieved."

McAuley, of Long Beach, and his partner, Natasha Brown, received the call just before 8 a.m. after another ambulance trying to reach the woman became stranded in floodwaters.

McAuley and Brown made it to the woman's street, but were stopped by water that was 3 or 4 feet deep, he said.

They called the police and fire departments, hoping that one would have a rescue boat. Police responded to the scene, but had no boat. Brown tried climbing over some fences, but still couldn't reach the house, McAuley said.

Then the paddlers showed up.

"It's remarkable that someone had a kayak," said Jamaica Hospital spokesman Michael Hinck. "Only in New York, right?"

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