Zamia Garcia was busy picking up clothing and food at the Coney Island distribution site where the American Red Cross was among several relief agencies offering assistance to victims Hurricane Sandy.
She was among hundreds of Coney Island resident who passed by the Red Cross table where registered nurses, EMTs and mental health counselors waited to help the steady stream of people passing by. She stopped and asked about whether they could check on her blood pressure.
John Griffiths, an EMT from Rochester, New York and Red Cross volunteer, led Zaima to a chair where he applied the blood pressure cuff and stethoscope to her arm to check her blood pressure. He told her the blood pressure reading which Zamia said she was relieved to know.
Myrna Sullivan, a registered nurse who came from St. Louis as a Red Cross volunteer, provided nutritional counseling and assurances regarding her diet. That is normal in this situation because you have been under stress, she explained and Zaima said she felt relieved to hear that. Myrna said the main concerns the health care workers have seen include blood pressure, diabetes and asthma, all conditions often made worse by a great amount of stress such as what thousands of New Yorkers have endured since Sandy.
Health care workers also walked around talking to people waiting in line to see if they had any issues needing immediate attention.
In some cases, people couldn’t refill needed prescriptions because their pharmacies were damaged or destroyed by the storm. In those cases, the Red Cross works with the people to connect with another pharmacy. In addition to health care, Red Cross volunteers also provided hot meals and distributed to nearby residents laundry bags filled with such items as a blanket, flashlight and batteries, packages of towels and hand sanitizers.