Carson City-area Guard members assist victims |

Carson City-area Guard members assist victims

Karen Woodmansee
Appeal Staff Writer
Erick Studenicka/Nevada National Guard Public Affairs Staff Sgt. Jesse Filsinger of Dayton, a member of the Nevada Army Guard's Medical Detachment in Reno, assists an elderly refugee get off a helicopter at Louis Armstrong International Airport on Sunday.

The anger is turning to relief and gratitude for victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, according to a medic with the Army National Guard’s medical detachment out of Carson City.

Sgt. Cate Summers of Carson City, a detective with the Carson City Sheriff’s Department, said now that the survivors are receiving help, their reactions have changed.

“They were angry the first day when they didn’t know where they were going and they were hungry, they were hot,” she said. “Once they know what was going on and what they were doing, the whole tempo seemed to calm. They just wanted help.”

She said the victims are no longer angry, and are crying and hugging the guardsmen.

“Some of them are embarrassed about the condition they are in. They tell us, ‘We don’t normally live this way,'” Summers said. “They tell you how important their jobs are to them and they feel quite successful, and they’re embarrassed about needing help.”

Summers said her group consists of Army National Guard and Air National Guard units numbering about 80 members, including 60 medics.

“They’re awesome,” she said of her fellow service members. “They’re just fantastic.”

The guard members are doing triage while offloading refugees from Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans.

“They’re coming in from all over the city,” she said. “A lot have been standing in water for days, and a lot can’t walk on their own. They need assistance with wheelchairs.”

She said many people are coming in with pets, so the guard built a holding area for the animals.

Many of the victims are babies, and Summers said the units have set up a system to reunite families.

“The parents are with the babies, but we’ve seen families separated,” she said. “We set up a contact point by computers so that when people come in, we can contact families and reunite them as we’re triaging them and taking them out of this area.”

Summers has not been in downtown New Orleans, but some others in the unit had, and “they said it was the worst they ever saw,” she said.

She said the group now has sufficient electricity and other services to assist them in caring for the hurricane victims. Summers is a new arrival, but others in her group have been in the area for four days, she said.

“The first two days they didn’t (have power), but now we do,” Summers said. “We took over the D Concourse, and we’re working right along with Delta Airlines people. They are quite helpful. Lots of these people are local and they’ve lost their homes, but they’re here working with us.”

Summers said her unit is scheduled to be in New Orleans for at least 14 days, but wasn’t sure how long the deployment would last.

Carson-Tahoe Hospital spokeswoman Cheri Glockner said there were two doctors and a nurse serving in New Orleans in their capacity with the National Guard.

Emergency room physicians Dr. Jack Shnurr and Dr. Richard Newbold and nurse Beth Boschee, all of Carson City, have been in New Orleans about four days, she said.

— Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111, ext. 351.