An emergency department nurse from Edmond, Jodi Elderton, is returning home after assisting the federal medical response to Hurricane Dorian as part of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS).
Elderton serves as a member of an NDMS Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).
NDMS is a federal program that can support communities with medical care, veterinary care, and mortuary assistance during disasters or public health emergencies at the request of states; NDMS is among the resources made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
“ASPR pre-positioned more than 200 medical and public health personnel, along with caches of medical equipment and supplies, into areas of greatest risk for storm impact,” NDMS Acting Branch Chief Dr. Helga Scharf-Bell said. “Many of our DMAT personnel, including Ms. Elderton, were first pre-positioned in San Juan, Puerto Rico, then moved to Florida and Georgia as the path of Hurricane Dorian changed.”
DMATs remain staged in several coastal states, ready to respond where and when needed as the storm continues to move up through the Carolinas and Virginia. Typically, DMAT personnel augment medical care at overwhelmed emergency departments, coordinate with Urban Search and Rescue teams to triage people rescued or provided basic medical care for evacuees at shelters.
Teams are deployed for up to 14 days. If needed, new teams replace teams that demobilize home. NDMS efforts to help residents of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia will continue until the states no longer need the support.
NDMS comprises approximately 5,000 physicians, nurses, veterinary staff, paramedics, fatality management professionals, and experienced command and control staff, organized into several different response teams, including, but not limited to: Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams, National Veterinary Response Teams, and Trauma Critical Care Teams. When an emergency overwhelms local and state resources, ASPR looks to the expertise within NDMS from across the country to assist in the response. Although they hail from communities nationwide, when deployed they are federal government employees working as part of a coordinated federal response.