Providing medical shelter and mass care services after a disaster is a specialty of BCFS Health and Human Services EMD. We are a nonprofit partner of federal, state, and local government, and private industry. Our organization specializes in emergency management, public health disaster response, mass care, medical sheltering, supporting displaced populations, and various other capabilities.
The 2008 Hurricane Season has been historically impactful for Texas, with three major storms striking the coast requiring the largest disaster-related coordination of supplies, people, and equipment in the state’s history. This season is ranked as the nation’s third costliest ever.
During Hurricane Gustav which made landfall in July 2008, we were tasked with running all the needed emergency medical shelters to provide aid for Galveston-area residents as well as impacted responders. EMD’s Incident Management Team staff members supported the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) as the only non-governmental agency to run Federal Medical Stations (FMS) during large-scale disasters. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) requested federal-level assistance to manage the multiple hurricanes, specifically by asking for the swift creation of multiple FMS stations. EMD ran two of the locations with our medical staff and managers, using our considerable experience in logistical planning and emergency management. Our group also functioned as a critical liaison to the third FMS that was staffed with federal employees. We helped this FMS with multiple challenges, including integrating into the local governmental structure which ensured there was less competition for similar resources between the differently managed groups.
EMD operated medical shelters and mass care operations for more than 17,000 evacuees and disaster responders. Our team performed these duties at the request of the State of Texas Division of Emergency Management Division. Post landfall, we were an integral part of Task Force Ike—the biggest single task force mobilization in Texas history. This effort required multiple organizations to work closely together to ensure a coordinated and effective disaster response, and EMD provided the incident command for the public health and medical response for Texas Department of State Health Services. In late October, we relocated all remaining Galveston evacuees to a shelter on Galveston Island, and continued to support this group with transportation and other services as needed.