BEAUREGARD, Ala.- Greg Brewer has answered the call to serve his whole life. He served 13 years as an Auburn firefighter. He currently serves as an EMT instructor at Southern Union and works part-time for Lanett Fire and EMS.
A couple of years ago, a close friend of Brewer’s, Tim Curry recommended that apply for an opening on the Disaster Medical Assistance Team, which is part of the National Disaster Medical Service. This would be another way for Brewer to continue his passion for serving. Once the paperwork was completed, Brewer was part of the team. He assisted with Pope Francis’ visit to the United States in 2015, but never served on a disaster mission with the group.
That all changed on August 13.
“August 13th, I called my DMAT team manager and said ‘hey, what’s the deal with this flooding in Louisiana?’ Brewer said. “He said ‘hey, I’m working on it.’ So, Sunday at about midnight, we were deployed.”
The team left from Mobile and headed to Baton Rouge. Brewer said when they arrived, people were still being pulled from the waters. In addition, there were many medical shelters but none were fully staffed. They opened a medical shelter at a LSU fieldhouse. This shelter would be used for patients with serious medical needs. Brewer said there were a few other shelters who needed some more help. In response to this, they created strike teams, which consisted of two nurses, two paramedics and one doctor. They would go to different shelters and help wherever needed.
For two weeks, Brewer and others worked 12 hour days and treated 1,000 patients, but touched many more lives.
“In the medical shelter, there was a family that had some children,” Brewer said. “It was one child’s birthday. The family had everything taken. They didn’t have a house, no possessions. So, public health and some of the DMAT teams got together, pulled some money, went to Walmart, got a birthday cake, got some toys and threw him a big birthday.”
Brewer said he’ll never forget hearing some of the stories of the patients he came in contact with. He said there were stories from patients talking about how their homes were in their families for 150 years and they never had flooding.
Brewer said the trip made him appreciate what he has, as well as giving him the chance to see a large-scale operation unfold and being able to bring that knowledge back to his students. Brewer added that he is extremely grateful to his family as well as his Southern Union co-workers who helped cover his classes while he was serving. He plans to be available in the event another disaster strikes as long as his family is ok with it.
For him, serving was an honor and a privilege.
“To kind of bring some of Auburn to Baton Rouge was a big deal and also represent our country,” Brewer said. “There was a lot of criticism after Katrina and this flooding was almost another chance for us to come in and say, hey we’re here and we’re here to help.”