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MCEMS Responds to South Carolina Flooding

Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services (MCEMS) recently joined 22 teams from across Tennessee in strike team operations in Columbia, South Carolina. Following the devastation of Hurricane Joaquin, the four man team from MCEMS, including Lieutenant and Special Operations Response Team (SORT) Commander Dustin Haas, Paramedic Garland Lester, Paramedic Terry Miller and Paramedic Chris Turner, were mobilized to South Carolina on October 4 and carried the zodiac boat, trailer and response vehicle with them to assist in the missions.

They joined teams from 13 counties in Tennessee and were briefed by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency in Knoxville, TN, before traveling on to Columbia, SC. Teams knew they were heading into an area without drinking water, food and utilities, so they left with large supplies of both bottled water and MREs (meals ready to eat). Teams worked both day and night missions. Day missions were mostly evacuations and night missions were mostly spent supporting the National Guard who was working on and around breached and damaged dams.

Jimmie Edwards, EMS Director and Regional Strike Team Coordinator states, "In times and events such this one in South Carolina, we shift into response mode. This is what we train for and why we have specialized equipment on hand to respond. We always hope we never have to use it, but it's certainly gratifying to be able to respond to neighbors in need." He continues, "Our team put in 570 man hours over the last week, in terrible conditions, because that's who we are – the volunteer state. We know if the roles were reversed, others would come to our aid in our time of need."

DustinHaas, Lieutenant and SORT Commander says, "We were able to experience the true volunteer spirit of Tennessee last week. We served alongside numerous MiddleTennessee agencies, and worked as one cohesive response unit. It was an incredible sight to witness. Events like this solidify the love that I have for my job, and the appreciation that I have for others that I have the privilege to work alongside every day. This time it was South Carolina, but if it'sTennessee next time, I have no doubt that South Carolina will be first in line to assist. The response from the South Carolina residents was so overwhelming. We couldn't go anywhere without receiving a handshake or thumbs up thanking us and Tennessee for coming to help! I'm proud of my team and the work we were able to do last week."

CountyMayor Jim Durrett adds, "I couldn't be more proud that Montgomery County EMS stepped up for another state in a time of need. South Carolina was certainly devastated and will be dealing with the aftermath from Hurricane Joaquin for years to come, but to know that we could play a small role in helping out during the emergency response is truly awesome."

Teams were demobilized and returned to Tennessee on Oct 10. 

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