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East Lyme's Mebus sisters are heroes in NYC ... and need your help

Rachel and Paige Mebus, former athletes and graduates of East Lyme High, used to live among us here in our corner of the world. Now they work in New York City hospitals, heroically and frightfully immersed in fighting the coronavirus. And they need our help.

Their parents, Carmen and Chuck, still East Lyme residents, are appealing to all of us today. If you know anybody with access to N95 masks — tight fitting and used to protect the wearer from airborne particles and from liquid contaminating the face — please contact the family immediately. Rachel Mebus, an APRN at NYU's Langone Health, is low on masks. Her life is in danger.

"I'm not looking for a handout," Carmen Mebus said Monday by phone. "I'll buy them. Anyone out there who might have access to them like painters, carpenters and tradesmen who work with dust or chemicals, please reach out. This is my little girl. I can't sleep."

Paige, who graduated from East Lyme in 2011 and works as a radiology assistant at Sloan Kettering, spends her time sticking needles into lungs of cancer patients, releasing the coronavirus into the air.

A primer on them: Rachel Mebus, a two-sport athlete at East Lyme and 2006 graduate, did her undergraduate nursing work at Quinnipiac and grad work at Yale. Before her work at Langone, she did medical missions in Zimbabwe, Guatemala, India and Ethiopia. She normally works on the neurotrauma floor, which has been converted into a COVID-19 unit. She has tested negative thus far.

"She worked six, 16-hour days last week," Carmen Mebus said. "With one mask. All of her patients are infected. She has smelled their breath. She has to decide who gets ventilators and who doesn't. Last week, she had a smiling, 71-year-old man sitting up in a bed. He said he was supposed to get a ventilator. He was dead four hours later."

Carmen said, "Most of her patients are between 50 and 60. Some of 19-20-year-old athletes. Rachel says it's not the disease, but that there's not enough people to treat the number of patients and there aren't enough ventilators. She forbids us to leave our house."

Carmen Mebus said there are refrigerated trucks outside hospitals taking bodies. Nurses can't gown up fast enough to attend to them. Doctors and nurses are either sick or calling out because they are terrified.

"Rachel gives and gives," Carmen Mebus said. "She is in tears."

Paige, meanwhile, carries a "letter of pass" to be able to walk the streets of New York in order to attend work. Neither Mebus sister has called out. Or will. It's not who they are. But they need our help.

We have always been a region of people who help our own. Two young women who are risking their lives every day need N95 or KN95 masks. If you know anyone, please call Carmen Mebus at (860) 908-9546 or e-mail her at clmebus@gmail.com.

I've had many conversations in my gyms and fields with Carmen and Chuck. Good people. I've never heard Carmen's voice in a more dire tone than Monday morning. Whatever any of us can do to help, now is the time.

This is more real every day. It gets closer. And when you begin to know people whose lives are affected — in this case whose lives are in danger — your outlook really does change. It goes from intellectual to emotional.

Say a prayer for the Mebus family. It's the personification of heroism. If you can help, please reach out.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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