National disaster medical system team arrives in Hazard

HAZARD, Ky. (WTVQ) – In the latest effort to support strained Kentucky hospitals, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) team arrived Wednesday at Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Hazard and will stay for two weeks.

The governor has also requested a 30-day extension of the five Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) strike teams tasked with transferring and transporting COVID-19 patients.

And that comes as nursing students from several state schools are helping at 16 different medical facilities in the state.

“These NDMS and FEMA teams have played a crucial role assisting our health care heroes as they fight the worst COVID-19 surge we have ever faced,” said Beshear. “We need continued federal assistance to save Kentucky lives, both from COVID and from other serious illnesses and injuries that require emergency medical treatment.”

NDMS teams typically include a medical officer, physician assistant, nurse practitioner, supply officer, respiratory therapist, four registered nurses and three paramedics. The team can help with opening more available beds that had not been used due to lack of staffing.

It can also support emergency department operations, contributing to increased ability for the facility to treat more patients.

Another NDMS team arrived at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead Sept. 4.

The FEMA EMS strike teams are being managed by the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) through American Medical Response.

The FEMA strike teams have made a noticeable impact on local health care facilities since their arrival in Kentucky on Aug. 27, easing the strain on Kentucky hospitals and giving local EMS resources the ability to provide non-COVID-related 911 services to their communities.

The extension also will facilitate patient transports from rural regions to larger urban hospitals that have greater bed availability.

Without an extension, three strike teams are set to expire Sept. 25, and the remaining two will expire Sept. 28.

Each FEMA EMS strike team is comprised of five advanced life support ambulances, and each ambulance is staffed with one paramedic and one emergency medical technician.

The strike teams have assisted regionally in Somerset, Louisville, Owensboro, Lexington and Corbin. They are centrally dispatched and can respond to any area in the state.

“We continue to monitor the status of health care facilities across the commonwealth so the FEMA EMS strike teams can focus on inter-facility patient transports, and the local resources can provide 911 services to their citizens,” saidMike Poynter, executive director of KBEMS.

The state also is assisting more than two dozen hospitals with support from more than 400 National Guard members. This is the largest deployment of National Guard for a health care emergency in the history of the commonwealth.

Nursing students are also supporting more than a dozen hospitals throughout the commonwealth.

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