While tens of thousands of people fled from the path of Hurricane Harvey Friday, a San Diego disaster team and Coast Guard Sector San Diego crew is heading in that direction to help save lives.
The Disaster Medical Assistance Team CA-4 (DMAT-CA4), based in San Diego, is preparing to assist in the emergency response to the hurricane. Two Chula Vista personnel have also been deployed to Hurricane Harvey, according to the City of Chula Vista.
DMAT-CA4 is part of the federally coordinated health care system under the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). Their 48-person team includes nurses, doctors, pharmacy personnel, paramedics and specialists in security, communication and logistics, according to a spokesperson.
"Many of the issues that may result from Hurricane Harvey can already be anticipated: massive flooding will require medical care for thousands of evacuees, and hospitals may be in the flood zone and might require evacuation," said Dr. Jake Jacoby, in a statement.
At around 2:45 p.m. Friday, a Coast Guard Sector San Diego helicopter crew also deployed to Texas to assist disaster response operations. The five person crew will arrive in El Paso, Texas and stay there until response efforts begin.
"A unique capability of the Coast Guard and our people is our adaptability when it comes to answering the call to action," said Cmdr. Rob Potter, the Sector San Diego chief. "San Diego is our home, but our crews are ready to deploy across the country to help those in need."
There will be no impact to local Coast Guard operations.
On Friday, the National Weather Service announced that Harvey had strengthened to a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph. Forecasters have labeled Harvey a "life-threatening storm" that poses a "grave risk." The storm could swamp several counties more than 100 miles inland.
"We are honored to be selected to stage for this serious situation, especially if the hurricane stalls when it is over both land and water," Jacoby said.
His team has been deployed to 17 previous disasters. That includes the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, eight missions in response to hurricanes and a super typhoon in Guam, according to a spokesperson for the team.