NEWS YOU CAN USE
Hurricane Isaac HITS
Crews Activate Response Plans
As Hurricane Isaac headed toward the Gulf Coast region in the end of August, residents were figuring
out to ways evacuate, and EMS operations
were swinging into full gear in their efforts
to receive for back-up assistance. With the
potential of a major storm hitting a wide
swath of land, officials initiated emergency
plans and waited out the weather early on.
On Aug. 26, with the storm just two days
away, Acadian Ambulance in Lafayette,
La., activated its Evacuation Response
Operations Center (EROC), a system borne
out of responses to previous storms, to
specifically handle the evacuations of
“Compared to other storms of the past
10 to 15 years, it was not one of the most
challenging we’ve had,” says Jerry Romero,
senior vice president of operations at Acadian. “But, we had to execute our disaster
plan.” Part of this plan included having 40
additional ambulances in service.
The EROC system was created after hurricanes Gustav, Katrina and Ike struck the
regions Acadian serves. Evacuating healthcare facilities and nursing homes is a major
part in the storm preparation process. To
meet that need, Acadian activates a separate
communications center to handle only those
types of evacuations, rather than have those
calls bog down the normal 9-1-1 system.
For instance, during Hurricane Katrina,
Acadian evacuated more than 2,000 patients.
During the first day of the EROC operation for Hurricane Isaac, the company transported 150 people.
Hurricanes are challenging for EMS organizations. Officials are faced with calling in
extra staff at a time where the staffers’ families
and homes may be in danger. This happens at
the same time that government officials are
asking residents to evacuate the area where
first responders are being sent to wait. The
result, however, can sometimes be a shortage
PhOtO ASSOCiAtEd PrESS/EriC GA Y
PhOtO ASSOCiAtEd PrESS/GErAld hErbErt
Trevelle Bivalacqua, 12, at right, helps firefighters and other volunteers evacuate residents from the
Riverbend Nursing Center as Hurricane Isaac makes landfall in Jesuit Bend, La.
of employees physically unable or unwilling
to return to work.
“Our employees are pretty hurricane
savvy,” says Romero. “At the beginning of
hurricane season, we put out our employee
update to remind them of the points to
have a family plan prepared, to know what
you’re going to do, and have a three-day
supply of clothes and food in case you don’t
get home. We get a lot of people who call in
Officials at SunStar EMS in Pinellas County,
Fla., like others, began altering their hurricane
response plans in 2004 and have upgraded
NIH creates Office of Emergency Care Research: www.jems.com/article/nih-creates-office-emergency-care-resear