WEST CHESTER -- On the anniversary of the heroism displayed during the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the Chester County Commissioners paid tribute to emergency personnel who helped efforts in Louisiana during Hurricane Gustav.
Paramedics and Emergency Medical technicians from three area fire and ambulance companies traveled 26 hours to the Gulf Coast to help evacuate patients from nursing homes and hospitals in New Orleans, Alexandra, Thibodaux and Zachary, La.
The 11 men and one woman spent 10 days in Louisiana as part of the Chester County Ambulance Strike Team, one of a number of emergency responders from Pennsylvania that went to help rescue efforts in the days leading up to Sept. 1, when Gustav made landfall in that state.
"We do appreciate everything you do, especially when you go above and beyond the call of duty," said Commissioner Terence Farrell before awarding citations to the three companies.
Commissioner Kathi Cozzone said she attended the homecoming celebration when the crews came back to Chester Count at the Government Service Center earlier this month. She said seeing their smiling faces of the emergency personnel as they got out of their vehicles was heartwarming.
"They said they got more out of it by offering the assistance than the assistance they offered," Cozzone said in tribute.
Those honored were paramedics Fred Wurster and Michael Young and EMTs Shelly Meadowcroft and AJ Pizzi from the Malvern Fire Co.; paramedics Keith Ledger and Brian Zimmerman and EMTs James Fox and Richard Ressell from Phoenixville's West End Fire Co.; and paramedics Christopher Buchmoyer and Jared Dalmas and EMTs Joseph Baxter and Jonathan Werner of he Uwchlan Ambulances Corps.
Wurster, the strike team leader, thanked the commissioners for giving the go-ahead to allow them to participate in the emergency efforts.
"It was truly and honor to go and represent Chester County," Wurster said. "Thank you for allowing us to go."
"Thank you for going," remarked Cozzone.
The commissioners also paid a silent tribute to those who died in the terror attacks by holding a moment of silence at the beginning of Thursday's commissioners meeting.
Farrell read a proclamation in honor of Patriot's Day, in which the commissioners offered "our gratitude to the fist responders who continue to service our communities with pride."
They also expressed support for National Preparedness Month and urged residents to take steps to prepare for emergencies.