Over the past several years Emergency Medical Service Agencies have become increasingly reliant on interagency deployments to meet the demands of our communities when the systems reach critical breaking points. Deployments are an all-out call for action directed by agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and State or Local County EMS agencies.
Reasons for deployments can range from natural disasters to mass casualty incidents. Most recently they have been used for nationwide COVID-19 vaccination site assistance. The deployment system relies heavily on volunteers. Many of whom will travel hundreds, sometimes even thousands of miles to help wherever they are needed. When asking someone who works in EMS “why they chose this field for their career?” The answer you will likely hear 99% of the time is “because I want to help people.” That in essence, is the heart and soul of EMS.
In normal day-to-day operations competition does play a factor. After all, EMS relies heavily on teamwork and first responders are kind of like professional sports players who are proud to represent their agencies! So, often we hear about refreshing, and even humbling experiences from those who have returned from a deployment in which multiple agencies and providers banded together as a “super team” to accomplish their goal of helping a community in distress.
While each deployment is unique and comes with its own set of challenges; protocols established by FEMA serve as a foundation to provide order in what can be a chaotic working environment. Templates have been created for different types of incidents and clarify who’s in command, how duties will be conducted, and what adjustments are made as more agencies get involved. In some natural disasters like hurricanes, resources are deployed days in advance so that help is already there when the actual event occurs!
Covalent Health responds to the call for action whenever possible. We have participated in deployments for fires, hurricanes, floods, mass vaccinations, as well as to provide relief for overburdened 911 systems in communities that have been stretched to the limit. Brought on by COVID-19 and its variants, hospitals and healthcare facilities have struggled to keep up with the extreme demand surges in patient care that quite literally can shift overnight. Many urban areas in particular are experiencing longer than usual wait times at emergency departments and lack available beds. One answer has been to deploy EMTs, Paramedics, and Nurses to these hospitals and even setup small triage stations so that they can assist patients and reduce wait times. The results have all been very positive and have helped these communities free up more personnel for their 911 systems.
In this day and age of increasing natural disasters and unprecedented health concerns, deployments are a prime example of the great things that EMS can accomplish when we roll up our sleeves and work together as a team.