Hurricane Season 2017: Disaster Medical Response for an Unprecedented Season
(SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford, CA)
Beginning in August 2017, the Atlantic and Caribbean experienced an unprecedented hurricane season. There were ten hurricanes in a row, two back-to-back Category 5 storms, approximately 1500 fatalities, and a record amount of damage — a preliminary total of approximately $280B. With the start of Hurricane Harvey in late August, the Department of Health and Human Services spun up its entire National Disaster Medical Response System (NDMS) to provide support in the South and in US territories the Caribbean. This included deployments of approximately 4,000 personnel to Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. This deployment involved the use of regional Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) which are made up of volunteer medical and support personnel who, when activated, constitute federal resources to supplement or replace area-wide damaged health care systems. This presentation will cover the deployment of these teams, the impacts observed, and the challenges associated with such a large-scale response.