National Disaster Medical System Team Arrives in Hazard

Published 11:22 am Thursday, September 23, 2021

FRANKFORT – In his latest action to support strained Kentucky hospitals, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) team he requested arrived at Appalachian Regional Healthcare in Hazard today 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.

“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 Gov. 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. To learn more, see the full release.

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,” said Mike Poynter, executive director of KBEMS.

The Governor said in addition to securing two NDMS teams and five FEMA strike teams to date, his administration ensured that more than two dozen hospitals are receiving 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.

The state is supporting six community testing sites across Kentucky. To see a map, click here.

Nursing students are also supporting more than a dozen hospitals throughout the commonwealth. To see a map of these hospitals, click here.