Hurricane Update



September 28th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps deployment in response to recent hurricanes is winding down. The SOC is returning to normal operations. Changes since the last update:

  • Rapid Deployment Force-1 with augmentation has been demobilized from the Federal Medical Station in College Station, TX.
  • Applied Public Health Team-3 is still in Texas, completing taskings from the State. Demobilization of half the team will occur on September 29. Final demobilization will occur on October 3 - 4.
  • The USS Kearsarge departed Haiti and resumed the Continuing Promise 2008 mission.

September 25th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health, medical and human service response to recent hurricanes, domestically and in Haiti. Changes since the last update:

  • Rapid Deployment Force-1 with augmentation is staffing the large Federal Medical Station in College Station, TX. Latest census: 50. Discharge planning staff continue to identify more permanent placements for evacuees. Will begin demobilization of staff with plans to have only command staff remain by the end of the week.
  • Applied Public Health Team-3 is in Texas, responding to appropriate tasking from the State. The team is focusing on vector control, disease surveillance, environmental health assessments, and food service site inspections.
  • Patient advocacy teams have been demobilized.
  • Two laboratory technicians remain in Galveston, TX.
  • The USS Kearsarge: Public health assessment and medical treatment teams continue their work. Today they were at: Gros Morne, Ennery, St. Michel and Atrelle. Departure from Haiti is scheduled for 26 September.

September 23rd, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health, medical and human service response to recent hurricanes, domestically and in Haiti. Changes since the last update:

  • Rapid Deployment Force-1 with augmentation is staffing the large Federal Medical Station in College Station, TX. Acuity of patients remains relatively high. Latest census: 237. Care remains uninterrupted. Discharge planning staff continue to identify more permanent placements for evacuees. Currently, officers are being demobilized and replaced by other officers deployed to the facility.
  • Applied Public Health Team-3 is in Texas for disease surveillance, environmental health assessments, and food service site inspections.
  • Patient advocacy teams continue their work in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. Will likely be demobilized within the next 24-48 hours.
  • The USS Kearsarge: The Kearsarge returned from Guantanamo to Haiti. Public health assessment and medical treatment teams continue their work. The ship will complete its mission in Haiti on 26 September, transitioning of responsibilities to Haitian and Non-Governmental Organization entities prior to that.

September 20th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health, medical and human service response to recent hurricanes, domestically and in Haiti. Changes since the last update:

  • 465 officers are currently deployed for the hurricane response.
  • Rapid Deployment Force-1 with augmentation is staffing the large Federal Medical Station in College Station, TX. Acuity of patients remains relatively high.
  • Applied Public Health Team-3 was deployed to Texas for disease surveillance, environmental health assessments, and epidemiological evaluations.
  • Patient advocacy teams moved from Texas to Arkansas and Oklahoma to assist with repatriation of patents to Louisiana.
  • The USS Kearsarge: Yesterday, USPHS officers were inserted into isolated flood-affected villages northeast of Gonaives to assess health and sanitation. Grande Saline (pop ~ 2,700): 5 buildings destroyed; no power. No well, using untreated rain and river water. No medical presence. Trois-Ponts (pop ~ 1,200): Approximately 1,000 internally displaced people. Two day supply of food remaining. Cooking fuel scarce. Working wells; no power. Diarrhea, skin infections present. Diagnosed malaria, typhoid, and some dengue fever. Today teams will be inserted into Belle Anse and Bainet for similar assessments.

September 17th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health and medical response to hurricanes and storms in the Gulf and southeastern States, as well as in Haiti. In the wake of Hurricane Ike, search and rescue operations, food and water distribution, and post-landfall assessments, are underway. Changes since the last update:

  • Rapid Deployment Force-1 with augmentation is staffing the large Federal Medical Station in College Station, TX. Acuity of patients remains relatively high. 34 nurses arrived today to augment the team. Texas A&M University is providing excellent support to the deployed USPHS officers.
  • Both Rapid Deployment Force 2 and Rapid Deployment Force 3 are being demobilized from Baton Rouge, LA and Alexandria, LA.
  • Community assessment teams and case managers are in TX.
  • Liaisons continue to serve at the Emergency Operations Centers in Austin and Baton Rouge. Patient advocates continue to serve in Little Rock.
  • The Office of Force Readiness and Deployment was asked to identify 10 human services subject matter experts for deployment to Baton Rouge to assist with case management for returning Louisiana residents.
  • Mental Health Team-1, Applied Public Health Team-2 and Applied Public Health Team-3 are on standby for possible deployment to TX.
  • The USS Kearsarge: The delivery of relief supplies continues, by helicopter and landing craft. Public health site surveys were conducted by USPHS officers at Les Cayes and Jeremie.

September 14th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical, and planning support for the public health and medical response to hurricanes and storms in the Gulf and southeastern States, as well as in Haiti. Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston, TX at approximately 0200 on 13 September, causing widespread wind damage and flooding. Millions of people are without electric power. Municipal water pressure is very low. Significant flooding has also occurred in southern Louisiana. All deployed officers remain unharmed. Search and rescue operations, and post-landfall assessments, are underway, after which additional mission assignments are expected. Changes since the last update:

  • Rapid Deployment Force-1 with augmentation is staffing the large Federal Medical Station in College Station, TX. The latest census: 330
  • Rapid Deployment Force-X remains staged in Dallas, TX, awaiting a post-landfall mission assignment.
  • A reduced detachment of Rapid Deployment Force-3 remains in Baton Rouge, LA at the Federal Medical Station there (21 officers). Most of the officers were demobilized.
  • Rapid Deployment Force-2 remains in Alexandria, LA. The Federal Medical Station there no longer has patients. The team is being incrementally demobilized by the Incident Response Coordination Team.
  • Community assessment teams are in Texas. Liaisons continue to serve at the Emergency Operations Centers in Austin and Baton Rouge. Patient advocates continue to serve in Little Rock.
  • The USS Kearsarge: The delivery of relief supplies continues, by helicpoter and landing craft. Daily health, water and sanitation assessment missions are planned.

September 11th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health and medical response to hurricanes and storms in the Gulf and southeastern States, as well as in Haiti. Attention has turned to the expected landfall of Hurricane Ike in southeatern Texas. Changes since the last update:

  • Rapid Deployment Force-CS (the combined Rapid Deployment Force-TX, Rapid Deployment Force 1 Blue and Rapid Deployment Force 1 Gold) are in College Station, TX staffing the large Federal Medical Station there. Many patients and evacuees arrived today.
  • Rapid Deployment Force-MS arrived in Baton Rouge and is augmenting Rapid Deployment Force 3 at the Federal Medical Station there. Preparations are underway to begin demobilizing some of the Rapid Deployment Force 3 officers.
  • Rapid Deployment Force 2 is in Alexandria. The Federal Medical Station there no longer has patients. The team is awaiting the decision from the Incident Response Coordination Team regarding demobilization, which itself depends on the outcome of Hurricane Ike.
  • Rapid Deployment Force-X arrived into Dallas and is awaiting a mission assignment.
  • Patient Advocacy Teams remain in Arkansas assisting with the re-patriation of Louisiana patients.
  • Seventeen National Incident Support Team members were deployed to the Emergency Operations Center in Austin, Texas and were accompanied by an additional 4 officers that were re-deployed there from Tallahassee. All these officers will serve as liaisons.
  • The USS Kearsarge, with embarked USPHS officers, today was approved to undertake public health missions ashore in Haiti. So far, these are the only health related missions for which the USS Kearsarge has been approved. The USPHS officers onboard the ship will play a central role in the missions. The USPHS Officer-In-Charge has been coordinating their planning with the Centers for Disease Control and Pan American Health Organization personnel on the ground. The missions will focus on health assessments, assessment of water supplies and sanitation, and conducting rapid measles immunizations for infants/children 0-14.

September 9th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health and medical response to hurricanes and storms in the Gulf and southeastern States, as well as in Haiti. Changes since the last update:

  • Teams moving from Atlanta to Dallas: Rapid Deployment Force-TX and Rapid Deployment Force 1. Rapid Deployment Force 1 will be split into 2 teams (Blue and Gold) in order to staff two separate Federal Medical Stations.
  • Teams moving from Atlanta to Louisiana: Rapid Deployment Force-MS. Most members will be joining Rapid Deployment Force 3 in Baton Rouge, allowing some Rapid Deployment Force 3 members already there to demobilize back to their duty stations.
  • Rapid Deployment Force-X will remain in Atlanta for another 24 hours. Once Hurricane Ike no longer threatens Florida, Rapid Deployment Force-X will also be sent to either Louisiana or Texas, depending on the location of projected landfall of Hurricane Ike.
  • Patient Advocacy Teams are in Arkansas. Will likely be distributed to Texas and Oklahoma later today.
  • The USS Kearsarge, with embarked USPHS officers, conducted an assessment of the medical situation on the ground in Haiti. Force protection issues remain a concern for ground operations. Food and supplies were delivered ashore by small boats and helicopters. In-country Pan American Health Organization points-of-contact were shared with the USPHS Officer In Charge onboard the ship.

September 8th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health and medical response to hurricanes and storms in the Gulf and southeastern States, as well as in Haiti. Changes since the last update:

  • Fifteen USPHS officers deployed to Arkansas where they will be components of Patient Advocacy Teams, assisting with the repatiration of evacuees. Some of the officers will be further deployed to Oklahoma and Texas to serve in the same capacity.
  • USPHS officers are assembled in Atlanta awaiting pre-staging deployment while Hurricane Ike makes its way accross Cuba, with an anticiapted path into the Gulf of Mexico, and possible landfall along the Gulf Coast. The USPHS officers underwent training on the latest version of the Electronic Medical Record system utilized in the Federal Medical Stations they will be staffing.
  • There are approximately 950 USPHS officers deployed.
  • Rapid Deployment Force 2 and Rapid Deployment Force 3 remain in Alexandria, LA and Baton Rouge, LA, staffing Federal Medical Stations there. With the uncertainty of Hurricane Ike, the return of patients to pre-storm locations has been delayed.
  • The USS Kearsarge, with embarked USPHS officers, arrived in Haiti to provide disaster relief in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna,and Ike. In addition, the ship may be taking on patients and up to 1,400 displaced individuals needing shelter.

September 7th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health and medical response to hurricanes and storms in the Gulf and southeastern States. Changes since the last update:

  • There are approximately 950 officers deployed or awaiting imminent deployment. Deployed officers are functioning as members of field response teams, coordination teams, and management groups. Individual officers are serving as liaisons to emergency operation centers and Emergency Support Function 8 partner organizations.
  • Rapid Deployment Force-MS was sent to Atlanta for further deployment, but 10 officers were kept back in Jackson, MS to assist with the care of nursing home patients. They will likely need augmentation.
  • Officers sufficient to staff 5 Federal Medical Stations have arrived and have been billeted in Atlanta. Their ultimate destination will depend on where Hurricane Ike is projected to make landfall.
  • Rapid Deployment Force 2 and Rapid Deployment Force 3 remain in Alexandria, LA and Baton Rouge, LA, respectively, staffing Federal Medical Stations there. With the uncertainty of Hurricane Ike and the power outages that still result from Hurricane Gustav, the return of patients to pre-storm locations has been delayed.
  • The USS Kearsarge, with embarked USPHS officers, is on its way to Haiti to provide disaster relief in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna. By the time it arrives there, further devastation may have been caused by the proximity of Hurricane Ike, which is now a very dangerous Category 4 hurricane.

September 6th, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical, and planning support for the public health and medical response to hurricanes and storms in the Gulf and southeastern States. Changes since the last update:

  • Rapid Deployment Force-TX has been moved to Tallahassee, FL.
  • Rapid Deployment Force -MS has been moved to Atlanta where it will be billeted and await pre-staging deployment for Hurricane Ike.
  • Rapid Deployment Force 2 and Rapid Deployment Force 3 remain in Alexandria, LA and Baton Rouge, LA, respectively. They continue to put in long hours under very difficult conditions. Despite these conditions the deployed officers remain committed to their mission. For example, because Rapid Deployment Force 3 has been unable to obtain soft food through their supply chain, using their own funds, officers went out to purchase baby food and pudding to support the dietary needs of patients unable to swallow solid foods.
  • Office of Force Readiness and Deployment (OFRD) received a request to roster and prepare for deployment 3 additional teams to staff Federal Medical Stations in the Hurricane Ike pre-staging effort. Teams composed of Rapid Deployment Force 1, Mental Health Team 2, Mental Health Team 3 and augmentees from Tier III have been created and the travel manifests sent to Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). The teams will be traveled to Atlanta for onward deployment into locations that will depend of the course of Hurricane Ike.
  • OFRD received a request from Emergency Support Function 6 to supply 10-20 case workers to Arkansas and Oklahoma to assist with the re-entry and re-patriation of Louisiana residents in shelters there. OFRD identified and sent a list of 15 suitable officers to ASPR for this purpose.
  • The USS Kearsarge is in Santa Marta, Colombia with embarked USPHS officers participating in the Continuing Promise 2008 humanitarian assistance training deployment. However, we learned late 5 September 2008 that the ship is being re-routed to Haiti to provide disaster relief in the wake of Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna. The US Navy requested that the current team of USPHS officers on the USS Kearsarge remain on-board to support a disaster response mission in Haiti. Hurricanes Gustav and Hannah caused severe flooding, catastrophic wind damage, and desperate need for medical assistance for a significant portion of Haiti?s population. Several inches of rain from the hurricanes in parts of Haiti triggered floods and landslides which ultimately killed over 100 people. About 6,000 people are in shelters throughout the western and southeast provinces and many houses are destroyed or damaged. The ship will head toward Haiti within the next 24 hours. Personnel from Project Hope and other NGOs are being off-loaded in Colombia. The Assistant Secretary for Health granted permission for the USPHS officers to remain on-board to participate in this international response effort. Consequently, the Commissioned Corps is now responding both domestically and internationally to the same hurricanes.

September 3rd, 2008

The Commissioned Corps continues to provide operational, administrative, logistical and planning support for the public health and medical response to Hurricane Gustav in the Gulf Coast States. Though the effects of Gustav were not as severe as those caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, many Gulf Coast residents were displaced due to the storm and remain in general population and medical special needs shelters, as well as in Federal Medical Stations (FMS) throughout the region. In the aftermath of the storm, some evacuees and patients continue to move to alternate locations. Also, the planning continues for Hurricane Hanna's expected landfall along the southeastern seaboard. The Office of Force Readiness and Deployment (OFRD) is preparing to move some officers already deployed, and deploy others to establish Federal Medical Stations in locations proximate to Hanna's expected landfall.

Commissioned officers are working long hours, generally in 12-hour shifts. Admissions and discharges from the sites are ongoing, the deployment of officers is dynamic, and FMS capacities fluctuate as additional cots arrive or are transferred elsewhere. Below is a current (2 September 2008) but approximate accounting of deployed commissioned officers and Federal Medical Stations under their care:

Team(s) Location # Officers Deployed Census Capacity % Capacity
Rapid Deployment Force-2 LA - FMS Alexandria Riverfront Center 92 181 204 89%
Rapid Deployment Force-3 (Blue) LA - FMS LSU Baton Rouge 83 60 500 12%
Rapid Deployment Force-3 (Gold) LA - FMS AG Center 48 40 250 16%
Rapid Deployment Force-TX TX - Marshall FMS 53 34 47 72%
Rapid Deployment Force-MS MS - Jackson FMS 70 81 100 81%

In addition, another 9 officers are serving as liaisons in TX, LA, MS and FL (all commissioned officers serving in AL have been moved to FL); 21 members of the National Incident Support Team-B are supporting the Incident Response Coordination Team in Baton Rouge, LA; 15 are deployed as Emergency Management Group-B to support the Secretary's Operations Center/OFRD and 2 are deployed to the National Operations Center.


HHS Supports Medical Evacuations in Preparation for Hurricane Gustav - Sunday, August 31, 2008


photo of Commissioned Corps medical officer in the Gulf Region during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In 2005, more than 2,400 officers in the U.S. Public Health Service were deployed to the Gulf Region before, during, and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They set up and staffed field hospitals and emergency medical clinics, treated sick and injured evacuees, conducted disease surveillance, and worked closely with local and State health authorities to plan for long-term public health needs.
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