Emergency State Sends First Responders and Tennessee National Guard to Assist Florida

John M. Dabbs

Florida disaster assets - 2017John Dabbs/Photographer

With an imminent strike from the latest hurricane threatening Florida's Gulf Coast and Keys, Emergency Management Assistance Compacts (EMAC) contracts are flying between state emergency operations centers (EOCs) in FEMA Region IV. With Florida under a state of emergency as declared by Governor DeSantis, the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard are mobilizing personnel to assist. Tennessee EMS operations are also en route to the "Sunshine State" with ambulance strike teams to help move patients from medical facilities in the danger zones.

Tennessee has developed a fellowship with Florida in recent years due to emergency management operations during times of crisis. The "Volunteer State" has sent personnel and equipment to almost all calls for assistance in recent years. As recently as Hurricane Irma, the Category 5 storm that was expected to ravage the entire state in 2017, Tennessee responded with multiple support teams for emergency operations, medical transport, and health care.

Recent times have left Tennessee with a shortage of qualified professionals to staff normal operating levels in hospitals, ambulance services, police, and sheriff's departments - not to mention the private sector. This shortage has yet to translate into any willingness for professionals to volunteer to help in disasters. The shortcomings arise due to a lack of personnel to run operations at home and support disaster response in some jurisdictions.

The regional American Red Cross office is also mobilizing to respond to the disaster zone. The Red Cross typically feeds the masses and helps groups make it through the initial recovery stages in disaster. The emergency responders are normally able to make their way back home within a week or two of disasters while the Red Cross may be on the ground for a month or longer.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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