Katrina and Rita are the ladies of Tim Gemind's past. Better add Sandy to that list, too.
Gemind, assistant fire chief for Bath Township, recently headed up to Long Island's Suffolk County as a part of Ohio's Emergency Management Assistance Compact
"EMAC is a system that allows states to reach out to other states for resources," Gemind said. "On the Saturday before the storm hit (Oct. 27), emails came from New York and New Jersey with requests for help."
The first deploy of an Ohio team was sent to the east coast and five days later, they requested back-up. Gemind headed to Long Island on Nov. 5.
Stationed in a "situation room," Gemind answered calls for resources, such as a dump truck or ladder. It was his job to find out the availability of those resources and get them to the scene. Gemind was stuck in that office for four days. He worked 10 to 12 hours a day.
"When I went to Katrina in 2005, my job was out in the field, so every day I saw the devastation," Gemind said. "In New York my focus was in the office of emergency operations and I didn't get out of there for four days."
He continued, "Working in the office was more challenging for me because most police and firefighters are operations-minded. Here we were getting information from the outside and making decisions based on that. It was hectic and fast-paced."
When Gemind did get outside, he got to see some of the devastated areas around the county. By the waterfront, he met a woman whose calmness took him by surprise.
"This woman was waiting for her child's bus to come by," Gemind said. "She told me, 'When you live by the ocean, you have to expect this stuff to happen.' Sure enough her kid's bus pulled up and they hugged each other. It was really emotional for me."
Gemind enjoys being a part of the EMAC team because he gets to use his skills and training to help others.
"It's a challenge," Gemind said. "But no matter what we do when we're there, we are making a difference."
What has Gemind learned from being on this team and helping with Katrina, Rita and Sandy?
"You can't ever think it's not going to happen to you," Gemind said. "If you stay focused and decide what needs to be done, you start there and work forward."
Gemind has been with the fire department for almost 26 years and has been assitant chief for 9 years.