The Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Fairfax County Health Department, and Arlington County Health Department are sending 35 public health nurses to provide health and medical support at emergency shelters throughout North Carolina following the onslaught of Hurricane Florence.
The first cohort of 22 nurses deployed from various parts of the state on Sunday, September 16. The teams are comprised of Virginia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Volunteers, Public Health Nurses from Arlington and Fairfax Health Departments and various other VDH local health departments.
“We are so fortunate that the initial path of Florence spared much of Virginia,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MPH, “allowing us to send multiple teams of public health nurses to help North Carolina. Many of those nurses who have volunteered to spend the next 9-16 days providing public health services in general population shelters are coming off shifts in shelters that have now closed in their own communities.
“Our remaining nurses throughout the state stand ready to deploy to Southwest Virginia, where the effects of Florence could bring landslides, swollen and flooded rivers, and the potential for tornadoes. I am extremely proud of the great team effort that enables VDH to prepare and train for such emergencies, and welcome the opportunity to support North Carolina – we know its leaders would do the same for us.”
This assistance is provided through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which allows states to provide mutual aid assistance to other states. EMAC is an all hazards – all disciplines mutual aid compact that serves as the cornerstone of the nation’s mutual aid system. Public Health requests are coordinated through the VDH Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
VDH last responded to an EMAC request for support to the U.S. Virgin Islands following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. During February 2018, VDH sent Environmental Health strike teams to St. Croix and St. Thomas to assist with identifying, monitoring, assessing and mitigating environmental health hazards. Working with local officials, members of the teams conducted inspections of food service establishments and other regulated facilities, and provided education on environmental health, drinking water and sanitation issues.