As Hurricane Maria continues to move forward, mandatory evacuations have been ordered for parts of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Here in South Carolina, hospitals are receiving patients evacuated from islands decimated by the storm.
Two of the 11 regional hospitals and healthcare facilities prepared to receive patients are currently doing so. Patients arrived Sunday; some in critical condition and some in what's called "med surg", meaning having the potential to become critical. Col. Eric Edwards is Incident Commander for the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and Commander of the Medical Activity Dept. at Fort Jackson,. He said he expects more patients to arrive soon.
"While we received patients beginning yesterday, we only suspect that as medical assistance is being sought after on the ground that the volume will only increase over the next 24 to 48 hours."
Patients are coming to Columbia because The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and Federal Coordination Center (FCC) have been activated at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
"Our proven history of great training and exercise that occurs annually here between Columbia International Airport and the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, with a number of agencies, allowed us the opportunity to be brought us higher on the prioritization list to receive evacuation of patients.
The NDMS is designed to assist in the coordination of governmental, non-profit, and medical emergency resources into a unified response to natural disasters and acts of domestic terrorism. NDMS is activated when an incident is so large that it overwhelms local agencies' ability to respond with sufficient medical aid. This is the first time that a Department of Defense FCC has been activated.
In addition to the Columbia FCC, two other FCC’s have been activated: Atlanta, Ga. and Shreveport, La.