Texas medical teams study Harvey response

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HOUSTON (KXAN) — The people responsible for keeping Texas civilians and members of the military healthy are evaluating the overall response to Hurricane Harvey … and to saying “thanks” to those who are helping.

When a catastrophe of the magnitude of Harvey hits, no one can really be sure how the health care infrastructure will respond.

Planners were quick to set up an air medical staging facility inside a warehouse at Bush Intercontinental Airport in north Houston.

“A component of the air medic evacuation system that is put in place so that patients can be transported to a central location at the airport then loaded onto aircraft and moved on to the rest of the country,” said Col. Craig Manifold, the Chief Medical Officer for the Texas National Guard.

Houston EMS Medical Director Dr. David Persse says the city is very fortunate that Houston hospitals were not forced to evacuate.

“Doctors are telling me we were this close to becoming a mass casualty event in Houston. Luckily these cots were not needed. These folks were here in case we had a large number of hospitals go offline like they did in tropical storm Allison,” Persee said.

Tech Sgt. Julie Brown, a homemaker from Denton, is part of the effort at the Houston airport.

“It’s been a deeply emotional experience, mostly because you see the need and the amount of work and coordination that drops in a matter of hours,” Brown said

Baptist Hospital in Beaumont is closed because of water issues. If a patient needs treatment, the Guard will send him or her to a triage tent. If an individual needs an X-ray, that person will be sent send to the Army tent. If a patient needs an ultrasound, that individual is sent to the Air Force tent. And there is no charge to the patients.

Inside the medical tents, patients would be lucky to meet Medical Operations Officer Capt. Jacob Shillig from nearby Vidor. His wife and four children are safe, but his home and two cars are flooded out.

“There are a lot of other people like me who were affected by the hurricane. And their homes were destroyed, too. But that doesn’t stop them from helping,” Capt. Shillig said.

The best Texas has to offer is on full display in the Texas National Guard.

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