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Air Force delivers medical professionals to Florida for Hurricane Irma response

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. (AFNS) -- The 41st Airlift Squadron transported more than 100 medical personnel to Orlando, Florida, Sept. 9, 2017, to prepare for Hurricane Irma relief efforts.

The 41st AS flew to Dallas and Houston to pick up U.S. Public Health Service Rapid Deployment Force personnel and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee and Ohio, along with their medical equipment.

“Our mission is to assist in response to Hurricane Irma,” said Ronda Lacey, AL-1 DMAT commander. “We’re here to help the state of Florida and the people who are in need of medical assistance there. It’s an honor to help our country in this critical time.”

Doctors, registered nurses, mid-level technicians, a dentist and an infectious disease specialist were among the USPHS and DMAT personnel who were pre-staged to support potential relief efforts. The responders brought a variety of skillsets as well as medical equipment such as pharmaceuticals, oxygen tanks, triage kits and basic first aid supplies.

USPHS and DMAT teams prepare in advance to respond to critical events, similar to the 41st AS.

“We’re ready to respond because of the training we do for this,” said Staff Sgt. Efrain Huereque, 41st Airlift Squadron loadmaster. “Even though we don’t get to do this often, it’s very rewarding; it feels good to help people in need.”

The relationship between DMAT and USPHS allows them to provide care for those affected by Hurricane Irma. The partnership of these civilian agencies with the Air Force secures mission success for immediate medical care.

“It’s a joint effort,” said Jessica Picanzo, TN-1 DMAT nurse paramedic. “We received a notification 12 hours ago, and now we’re in the air. We’re able to respond so quickly because of our military partners.”