The topic of Katrina came up and I was asked to share my experience as a first responder! So here goes! We were stationed in Germany as was the norm for us as first response Air Combat Rescue P.J.s so we were always the first few squadrons to answer any emergency! The warnings had been sent out about a week before the storm hit, and we were watching closely to see where it would hit and how bad it might get! about 12 hours before the storm hit, it was obvious just how bad it was going to be and we had a pretty good idea where it would make land fall! We had already loaded our MH-60s on 4 transports ( 2 birds each plane) and were wheels up just ahead of the storm by aprox 6 hours! It's about a 16 hour flight across the Atlantic, with 2 air to air refulings, and we circled around southern Florida to await the orders that would send us in to the worst hit area. We were pretty shure it would be New Orleans, but there could be other areas needing us worse, so we were to stand by until the storm had passed enough to land and begin flight ops! We ended up landing at the small civilian air port just outside the city, it had taken quite a bit of damage, but the ground forces ( national guard units) were able to clear the main runway for us to land. First thing we did was to get our Trauma unit set up and running, and get the Coast Guard and National Guard to start running fuel to us! We had 8 Large transports ( C-5B) that landed the first 4 hours to get us up and running while the first 4 Mh-60s went out to begin rescues! I was deployed the first 12 hour shift to the TOC ( Tactical Operations Center) to coordinate with other Mil. and Civil rescue operations) With the U.S.C.G. in command of the entire operation, with Us as back up, but the prime medical support! Every thing happening came across my desk, so I got to see every thing that was happening, and could answer to any one who called to ask or to pass along orders! My job was to organise and prioritize all incoming rescue requests in order of importance and assets available and recommend to command which needs were most dire! I also communicated with all pilots to track operations and to shift assignments as needed! By the 2nd day, I was rotated to flight ops and begin my part of flight ops and rescues! In my first 12 hour shift, we ran 51 winch rescues, and transported 106 persons to processing centers to be examined and cared for and then sent to shelters for additional care or other needs. My third day was spent in the trauma center handling incoming trauma patents, which by this time, we were seeing a YUGE increase! It was expected the numbers of casualties would rise as more folks were having heath emergencies, many were showing signs of viral infections or other afflictions due to long term exposure to contaminated waters! Then we had casualties evac ops, folks who needed to be transported out of the area for further/long term care in the hospitals that were able to take them! Those were shuttled to the air port and then sent out for care! By the end of my first week, I was exhausted, and due to be relieved, which wasn't going to happen, so we all had to suck it up and carry on any way we could! We ran a total of 1300 flight ops in the first 10 days! The Coasties ran even more, having more aircraft on site, but we had higher hours per airframe. We had received a battalion of Army combat engineers to help shore up our operations and expand to allow additional personal and equipement! the first 3 weeks, every thing had to move by air, the roads were impassable, and those that could be cleared were being used to run emergency supplies to the civilian shelters and trauma centers! Every thing else had to fly! By this time, The rescues were about finished, so we transitioned to security and comand and control with the Coasties passing command of the ops over to the Army and the National Guard!