Ambulance teams respond to Hurricane Michael on Gulf Coast

Becky Campbell • Oct 10, 2018 at 11:46 PM

More than a dozen ambulances and crew members left Tennessee Wednesday headed south to Alabama on a deployment mission as Hurricane Michael barreled toward the Gulf Coast.

Five of those ambulances were from East Tennessee, including two vehicles and four medics from the Washington County/Johnson City EMS. Those five are part of the Region One Ambulance Strike Team, which consists of the eight Upper East Tennessee counties. On this deployment, ambulances from three agencies — Sullivan, Washington and Greene — were dispatched.

“Each team is made up of five ambulances of like type,” said Sullivan County EMS Deputy Chief Stacy Mahan, who is the team leader on this deployment. He said the five ambulances headed to a staging location in Alabama are all Advanced Life Saving units with a paramedic and an advanced EMT on board each one.

Mahan was driving the team leader vehicle, which also pulls a trailer with the team’s essential equipment for a week of self-sufficient survival. He said the five ambulances from Region One will meet up with two other teams for a total of 15 ambulances from Tennessee headed toward the coast.

“We’re going to Troy, Alabama, tonight (Wednesday), and we are expected to be deployed out of there around 2 or 3 a.m. into Florida,” Mahan said. “We’ll pull our beds down and get everybody to bed down about seven hours. We don’t know where our next destination will be. We’ve been told there’s a big possibility we’ll be attached to a DMAT — Disaster Medical Assistance Team. There are doctors, nurses ... it’s a casualty collection point.

Mahan said Region One Strike Team will probably bring people into that area for treatment and/or take them out to a medical facility.

In addition to medical unit responses to the impacted area, BrightRidge took measures to send help as well.

“At this point, BrightRidge and Elizabethton Electric will be jointly sending one crew from each utility to stage in Cairo, Georgia, leaving first thing in the morning,” BrightRidge spokesman Tim Whaley said mid-afternoon on Wednesday.

“In addition, we have released approximately half our Pike County contracted construction crews to stage for response in the Gulf region. We will release additional contracted crews as need becomes apparent. Further, BrightRidge will evaluate additional Gulf region manpower requests going forward working through the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, which is serving as a coordinator for manpower requests from Tennessee public power providers,” he said.

“In the interim, our thoughts and prayers for safety are with those in the path of the storm as it begins moving ashore in Florida (Wednesday) afternoon."