Cheatham County medics went to North Carolina and treated Hurricane Dorian victims on flood-ravaged Ocracoke Island, one of the communities hardest hit by the early-September storm.
“We were the first medical team to arrive there,” Cheatham County Emergency Medical Service Chief Dan Schaeffer said. “We treated quite a few people.”
Schaeffer and Cheatham EMS Capt. Steven Haggard drove an ambulance to Kinston, N.C., and took a helicopter to the Outer Banks island. They set up at the local fire station and treated people for cuts, dehydration and breathing difficulties, Schaeffer said.
Even minor cuts were potentially dangerous because of contaminated waters, he said. “It really raised the risk of infection for them.”
Outerbanksthisweek.com reported a seven-foot storm surge on Ocracoke Island that brought the community’s highest floodwaters since 1944 and destroyed scores of homes, businesses and vehicles.
“It was pretty devastating to the folks who live on Ocracoke Island,” Schaeffer said.
Tennessee deployed 172 emergency personnel to help with Hurricane Dorian relief, according to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
TEMA coordinated Tennessee’s Dorian deployments through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, the nation’s state-to-state mutual aid system.
“We are fortunate to have such dedicated emergency professionals in Tennessee who think nothing of putting themselves in harm’s way to save lives,” Gov. Bill Lee said in a TEMA press release. “We are proud to call these selfless heroes our family members, neighbors, and friends.”
The Cheatham EMS team was originally sent to Florida as the hurricane was taking aim at that state’s Atlantic coast. After Dorian took a northward turn, the unit was freed up to go to North Carolina.
Others deployed from Tennessee included firefighters from Ashland City, who formed a six-man swiftwater-rescue team with personnel from Dickson.
That group remained in Florida because flooding from the St. Johns River in the Jacksonville area remained a threat, according to Ashland firefighter Mike Osman.
“We were all in position,” Osman said.
In addition to Osman, the team consisted of Ashland City firefighters Ernie Franklin and Blaine Higgins; and Dickson firefighters Jason Grove, Lt. Brent Ham and Brett Yeager.
The team went to Florida in two vehicles, one with a trailer towing two boats and the other towing a trailer full of gear, Osman said.