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Boston EMTs Exemplify Service during Snowstorm

There wasn't a flake of snow on the ground last week when a grateful Tom Menino asked the residents of Boston to 'pull for each other the way you pulled for me.'

Last night, at the height of an epic blizzard, Tony O'Brien and James McCabe turned the mayor's request into reality.

This veteran team of EMTs spent the most harrowing night in recent memory away from their families, sitting in an ambulance buffeted by driving snow and howling winds, poised to rush to the aid of any and all in need of their help.

Indeed, they were out there to pull the rest of us through.

'Awful weather doesn't stop someone from having a stroke or a heart attack,' Tony O'Brien said last night, as his 'truck' was stationed near the intersection of D and Summer streets at the edge of South Boston.

'Children still get sick, the elderly still fall, anything can happen and that's why we're out here to answer any calls that come our way. We're out here, and hopefully that should give people some comfort. We'll be there for them, just like every other EMT and paramedic crew out here.'

O'Brien and McCabe were part of a fleet of more than two dozen ambulances that covered the city last night and will continue to be on call throughout the storm's aftermath.

They gave thanks for the driving ban that emptied the roads of all traffic save for emergency vehicles. But as the snow began to pile up and visibility disappeared, both partners braced for desperate calls over slick roads where salt trucks could barely keep up with the snow.

Each ambulance crew is strategically placed across the city and never too far from a snowplow to help clear the way through a side street.

'Everyone at EMS picked it up for this storm,' Tony O'Brien said. 'People put off vacations and days off to come in and be there through this. People should know that we're out here and at the other end of their 911 call, and we have their back.'

And if that back has to be lifted and transported over 5-foot snow drifts, they need not worry, because every ambulance is outfitted with a Sked, a plastic device that is part sled and all stretcher.

'I'm sure we'll be using them quite a bit over this weekend,' O'Brien added.

They will try to avoid getting stuck behind a disabled car, or sliding into a snowbank. They will try to keep warm in the midst of a blinding blizzard. They will wait for the calls. And these best and most selfless of public servants will answer them



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