New Jersey Woman Swam to ER Job After Superstorm Sandy

Marsha Hedgepeth swam to Route 37, then hitched a ride to work on a utility truck

Marsha Hedgepeth, of Toms River, New Jersey, took to a drastic gesture to get to her job as an emergency room technician at Community Medical Center, following Hurricane Sandy.

She swam to a main road, then hitched a ride to work. According to the Tucson Citizen, it took half an hour to swim to Route 37 from her apartment in Gilford Park. As she signaled motorists on the highway, she got one's attention, and a five-minute utility truck ride followed.

“You know you just have to be there. [...] You’re never going to have enough staff in a state of emergency,” she says.

During that time, her home had been affected by not only flooding, but also by power cuts. She couldn't phone in, as she didn't get any reception, and decided to make an effort to get to work. Marsha takes her responsibilities at the hospital very seriously.

“We are the first responders. The tougher the circumstances is when you do come to work,” she explains.

“I knew once I was there I could clean up and get to work. If my area was that bad, I knew over the bridge” — in Seaside Heights, N.J. — “it was 10 times worse. I knew they’d be coming there to the hospital,” Marsha says.

ER operators at the Medical Center attended to 300 patients a day, following the superstorm. Hedgepeth was not the only one to stay in and help.

According to Jean Flaherty, director of marketing, 250 employees spent the days following the hurricane in the hospital, napping on cots or gurneys between shifts.

Of those, 122 saw their homes being either partially or completely destroyed. Most had trouble getting in, as 75 lost their vehicles in the storm, “yet they continued to work.”

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