WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of response efforts to Hurricane Ivan, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has four of its Disaster Medical Assistance Teams providing emergency medical treatment to victims in Florida and Alabama. The teams are part of the National Disaster Medical System, which transferred to FEMA with the creation of Homeland Security in March 2003.
Since Saturday, the FEMA Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) have set up medical facilities at four locations and treated more than 700 victims of Hurricane Ivan who sustained injuries as a result of the storm. Combined with the teams that provided medical support for impacted areas from Hurricanes Charley and Frances, FEMA DMATs have treated more than 6,000 patients since the hurricanes began battering Florida and other states in mid-August.
“Having the Disaster Medical Assistance Teams as part of the Homeland Security family has contributed dramatically to our ability to quickly respond to medical needs in the aftermath of disasters such as these hurricanes,” said Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response.
Currently, Florida DMAT-3 is engaged at West Florida Hospital, Florida DMAT-4 is operational at Baptist Hospital, and Oklahoma DMAT-1 is at the Sacred Heart Hospital, all in Pensacola, Fla. All three teams are handling triage and emergency care, including treating cuts, infections, respiratory problems and other emergency medical conditions. Missouri DMAT-1 has set up a medical facility in Orange Beach, Ala., which does not have a hospital in that general area, to provide similar services. All teams have treated a number of patients injured while cleaning up after the hurricanes.
Since August 13, when Hurricane Charley hit Florida, 33 DMATs have been activated for the response operations, including those who actually deployed as well as those on alert at their home bases. Generally, DMATs are made up of 35 medical personnel, including physicians, nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and other medical specialists. The units are designed to be self-sufficient for 72 hours.
FEMA DMATs have recently responded to large-scale disasters including The World Trade Center attack on Sept.11, 2001, Hurricane Isabel in September 2003 and the Bam, Iran Earthquake in December 2003. Teams also were deployed in 2004 to support the G8 Summit, the National Democratic Convention and the Republican National Convention.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.