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Sullivan County, Johnson City part of state's Irma response team

From staff reports • Sep 11, 2017 at 3:53 PM

NASHVILLE — The state of Tennessee deployed multiple teams of health care and search and rescue professionals south on Friday to help local, state, and federal officials in Florida deal with the impact of Irma, the second catastrophic hurricane to strike the continental U.S. this season.

Locally, emergency medical crews from Sullivan County, Washington County, Johnson City and Greene County are part of Tennessee’s Hurricane Irma response team.

“I am glad we could call upon Tennessee’s well-trained and dedicated emergency managers, first responders, and health professionals to help out Florida through what could be a devastating disaster,” said Director Patrick Sheehan of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). “Effective emergency management is built on solid relationships, and our partnerships with local fire and emergency medical services agencies, and our state health officials, have made all the difference in putting together Tennessee’s Hurricane Irma response teams.”

Those teams have a total of 151 members and include: a 40-person nurse strike team; five ambulance strike teams with 57 members; three urban search and rescue teams with 40 personnel; two health incident management teams with 10 personnel; and a four-member team of emergency management officials.

The nurse strike team includes practitioners from Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) regional public health departments across the state and will provide crucial medical care and support to Hurricane Irma survivors.

“While we hope the need will be limited, we are proud of the Tennessee Department of Health nurses and EMS crews who are volunteering in response to Hurricane Irma,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner. “With nearly 400 TDH public health nurses trained and many practiced in shelter operations, I know these highly capable volunteers will be a great asset to the emergency response efforts in Florida as they help residents affected by what is unfortunately predicted to be a massive hurricane.”

TEMA began assembling the Hurricane Irma response teams Wednesday afternoon. Irma, still a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, is predicted to make landfall in southern Florida Sunday. Emergency officials in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina also are preparing for potential impacts from the storm.

TEMA’s 24-hour Watch Point is monitoring Irma’s path and forecast as the system has the potential to impact east and middle Tennessee next week.

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