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Responding to Hurricane Gustav

Responding to Hurricane Gustav

Tornadoes, Flooding, Power Outages Case Double Evacuations

Hurricane Gustav was the sixth largest US based disaster (at that time) in terms of monetary collateral damage. Beyond the manifestations of infrastructure, there was an incalculable personal toll. Amongst a million citizens in Southern Louisiana, 9 out of 10 fled their homes. The hurricane was predicted to be Katrina like in force and was hitting Louisiana on the very same day as Hurricane Katrina just three years earlier. While the levies held averting the colossal life threat of Katrina, the aftermath of Gustav was every bit as devastating. Gustav spawned tornadoes, widespread flooding, city wide power outages all causing hospitals up state to become victims rather than the safe haven they all rehearsed. The legacy of Gustav was double evacuations. Hospitals clearing space to receive patients and staff were now faced with quickly emptying their facilities.

Post Katrina, Response Systems was contracted by the Louisiana State Health Care System Division, the 9th largest Public Health system in the US to help LSU maintain control of their patients. Serving as the health care safety net for a significant portion of the population in the state, LSU system officials vowed to take care of their own. Many were skeptical of hiring a private contractor to do what agencies of both State and Federal government were revving up to do since 2005. The test came and in ways that no one predicted. Response Systems stepped up and met the challenge. First orderly evacuations as part of planned decompressions and partial shelter-in-place strategies and then ad hoc full out rapid complete emptying of hospitals with little to no warning. LSU HCSD officials hailed the mission as “beyond our expectations” and “validation of our strategies”. Response Systems was able to lend assets to the state to complete their mission promoting further appreciation of state authorities.

Recovery missions were also praised for the timely and orderly re-entry of patients back to their original admitting facility. Families of LSU patients did not have to wait or travel hundreds of miles to see loved ones as Response Systems working under the direction of LSU Incident Command quickly returned patients to their home cities. Some, coming with additions to the family as Response Systems transported dozens of At Risk Mom’s and their newborns. Response Systems evacuated all types of patients: trauma, CICU, ICU, NeoICU, long term care, and behavioral health residents.