International Medical Corps Teams are Providing Relief in Florida Following Hurricane Michael
At the request of the Florida Department of Health, International Medical Corps sent multiple teams of doctors and nurses to the state to respond to Hurricane Michael.
International Medical Corps volunteer doctors and nurses have been working at medical facilities and special-needs shelters providing primary healthcare to people affected by the storm, giving local first responders the opportunity to rest and attend to their own losses in the wake of the devastating hurricane.
Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle as a powerful Category 4 storm, with winds as high as 155 miles per hour. Its impact was felt along the whole Gulf Coast, with thousands of buildings destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people without power.
Wind, flooding and power outages from hurricanes create a range of emergency medical needs, including lack of medications for chronic conditions, infection of open wounds, lack of access to clean water and the potential for transmission of waterborne diseases. At International Medical Corps, we have a breadth of experience delivering emergency relief in difficult environments, and are experienced at getting people and supplies to places that are hard-hit, often where communications are down. We have an agreement with the state to provide assistance to the people of Florida wherever and whenever needed.
The situation remains fluid, so check back here often for more information—and to find out how you can help.
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Frequently Asked Quesions
Does International Medical Corps respond to disasters in the US?
International Medical Corps is there, no matter where, ready to respond immediately when disaster strikes. Last month, International Medical Corps deployed a mobile medical unit to meet urgent needs in some of the hardest-hit areas of North Carolina following Hurricane Florence. In 2017, International Medical Corps teams were in Florida and Puerto Rico following hurricanes Irma and Maria, providing medical supplies, clean water storage, generators and cash grants to primary healthcare networks, and deploying mobile medical teams to provide primary healthcare in hard-to-reach areas.
What hurricane-response services does International Medical Corps provide?
During a sudden-onset disaster, International Medical Corps can provide emergency medical relief—volunteer doctors and nurses, medical supplies, mobile medical clinics, and a modular, portable field hospital. We also work with local First Responders to support and help restore local health systems, which can be offline or significantly impaired after a natural disaster. As a global first responder with almost 35 years of experience delivering emergency relief in difficult environments, we have the capacity to respond anywhere in the world—fast. We can have a team on the ground in less than 24 hours, and a fully functional field hospital set up in less than 72 hours.
The Florida Department of Health has asked International Medical Corps to send volunteer doctors and nurses to help staff medical facilities and special-needs shelters affected by the storm, and potentially to establish field-based medical treatment capacity for communities with heavy infrastructure damage.
What experience does International Medical Corps have responding to hurricanes?
International Medical Corps was founded in 1984 to relieve the suffering of people affected by conflict, natural disaster and outbreak of disease. We have decades of experience responding to large-scale disasters, such as the Indian Ocean Earthquake and tsunami; earthquakes in Haiti, Nepal, Mexico and Japan; Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; and humanitarian crises around the world, including famine, disease and conflict.
What are some health concerns associated with hurricanes, and how can I be prepared?
Some of the major health concerns arising from hurricanes come from wind, flooding and power outages. In particular, once the worst of the storm has passed, there are still significant health concerns you must consider.
Flooding due to storm surges can damage medications, cause infection of open wounds and increase the potential for transmission of waterborne diseases. Flooding may limit access to safe drinking water. And standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which can transmit disease.
Power outages mean that you might lose the ability to refrigerate medications that need to be kept at specific temperatures. And a lack of lighting also increases the danger of getting injured as you walk around.
Finally, the combination of flooding and downed power lines present a danger of electrocution.
Here are some resources that can help you prepare for a disaster:
* Health risks and precautions to take before, during and after flooding.
* Health risks and precautions to take with power outages.
* After a major disaster it may take hours or days for help to arrive. Plan ahead with this downloadable first-aid checklist.
* Access to clean water is critical to preventing disease. Be ready by storing at least 5 gallons of clean water per person.
How can I help?
The best way to help in a disaster is with a cash donation to an experienced organisation that is working in the affected area. Unlike donations of clothing, blankets and other items, cash can meet any need, anywhere. It can buy generators, purchase medical supplies and quickly help get the right kind of assistance to the right place when it’s needed most.
International Medical Corps also accepts volunteer doctors and nurses to work in the field during a disaster response. You can see our volunteer opportunities here.