I had the unique opportunity to assist with the disaster relief in Austell. With every deployment you must take in and learn what goes right and what does not. We take that information and build upon our skills and knowledge for future missions. In our line of work we train for such missions but until you pound the ground you can not appreciate your training.
I knew there was a lot of damage from the media but I had no idea. More than 600 homes were destroyed, leaving upwards of 1800 people displaced and their lives disrupted. I took an hour and half recon before heading out which was part of the planning process to determine the most active areas and most needed help. Once this was established a map was marked and prioritized. We decided to pack light and ride in on ATV. Each area was sectioned by subdivision or by block system.
Our forward operating base was set up, along with the Red Cross, in the Austell super market on Love Street. Our mission was to have an aid station base in the super market for the people coming in. These people have been put in abnormal stress due to disruption in their lives so regular medical issues have been over looked or affected such as hypertension, CHF, COPD and diabetes. Our spoke from the hub was used for the outlying areas where the clean up was going on. We made sure everyone was maintaining their health awareness by walking through the crowds, speaking with and identifying ourselves, and asking how everyone was feeling and advising them of the Red Cross supply center.
We found there were as many volunteers as victims, every one was maintaining hydration. We gave out Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen for head aches and body aches, also a few small band aids for minor cuts and blisters. We also checked a couple of blood pressures. The most responses we noticed from the public was just the fact that we were there checking on people gave them a greater peace of mind.
We must always remember that what ever everyone thinks can’t or won’t happen, IT WILL! As tactical medics we must remember that we are ALWAYS HOT, and when it hits the fan, everyone will be looking to us.