Tennessee Sending Medical, Search & Rescue Teams to Florida for Critical, Life-Saving Missions in Hurricane Irma Response

Friday, September 08, 2017 | 02:21pm

Nashville, Tenn. – The State of Tennessee deployed multiple teams of health care and search and rescue professionals south today to help local, state, and federal officials in Florida dealing with the impact of Hurricane Irma, the second, catastrophic hurricane to strike the continental U.S. this season.

“I am glad we could call upon Tennessee’s well-trained and dedicated emergency managers, first responders, and health professionals to help Florida through what could be a devastating disaster,” said Director Patrick Sheehan of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).  “Effective emergency management is built on solid relationships, and our partnerships with local fire and emergency medical services agencies, and our state health officials, have made all the difference in putting together Tennessee’s Hurricane Irma response teams.”

Tennessee’s Hurricane Irma teams have a total of 151 members, to include: a 40-person nurse strike team; five ambulance strike teams with 57 members; three urban search & rescue teams with 40 personnel; two health incident management teams with 10 personnel; and a four-member team of emergency management officials.    

The nurse strike team includes practitioners from Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) regional public health departments across Tennessee, and will provide crucial medical care and support to Hurricane Irma survivors. 

“While we hope the need will be limited, we are proud of the Tennessee Department of Health nurses and EMS crews who are volunteering in response to Hurricane Irma,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “With nearly 400 TDH public health nurses trained and many practiced in shelter operations, I know these highly capable volunteers will be a great asset to the emergency response efforts in Florida as they help residents affected by what is unfortunately predicted to be a massive hurricane.”

The ambulance strike teams include advanced emergency medical technicians and paramedics from: 

  • Anderson County Emergency Medical Services
  • Bedford County Emergency Medical Services
  • Blount County Rural Metro Emergency Medical Services
  • Cheatham County Emergency Medical Services
  • City of Bartlett Fire Department & Emergency Medical Services
  • Claiborne County Emergency Medical Services
  • Greene County Emergency Medical Services
  • Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services
  • Hickman County Emergency Medical Services
  • Knox County American Medical Response
  • Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services
  • Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services
  • Moore County Emergency Medical Services
  • Robertson County Emergency Medical Services
  • Sevier County Emergency Medical Services
  • Sullivan County Emergency Medical Services
  • Sumner County Emergency Medical Services
  • Vanderbilt LifeFlight
  • Washington County & Johnson City Emergency Medical Services
  • Williamson Medical Center Emergency Medical Services
  • Wilson County Emergency Management Agency & Medical Services

The urban search and rescue teams includes representatives from Metro Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management, and the fire, police, and public works departments.  The search and rescue team will also include personnel from the City of Brentwood and City of Franklin fire departments, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Williamson County Emergency Management Agency.

"Nashville was very fortunate to receive assistance and aid from other cities and agencies during the historic 2010 flood,” Mayor Megan Barry said. “I know Metro’s first responders will work tirelessly to help the people of Florida and keep them safe during the challenging days ahead.”

 The urban search and rescue teams will conduct missions to search out and save survivors from perilous conditions.  Team members have specialized training in conducting operations in confined, tight spaces and then transporting survivors to safety.

The health incident management team will support on-the-ground operations of the ambulance and nurse strike teams, and includes public health professionals from the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Department of Health, Jackson/Madison County Department of Health, and TDH.

TEMA will send two staff members to join representatives of the Dickson County and Decatur County emergency management agencies, also in support of the field teams. 

TEMA is coordinating Tennessee’s Hurricane Irma deployments through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), with organizational support from the Tennessee Association of Fire Chiefs' Mutual Aid System and TDH. 


The ambulance and strike teams deployed from Chattanooga, Tenn, today, and the urban search and rescue team deployed today from Nashville, Tenn. The nurse strike team is expected to deploy from Chattanooga on Saturday. All teams will base their operations out of Tallahassee, Fla., for an eight-to-14 day deployment duration.

TEMA began assembling the Hurricane Irma response teams Wednesday afternoon.  Hurricane Irma, still a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, will make landfall in southern Florida Sunday.  Emergency officials in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina also are preparing for potential Hurricane Irma impacts, though it is still too early to specify location or magnitude.

TEMA’s 24-hour Watch Point is monitoring Hurricane Irma’s path and forecast as the system has the potential to impact east and middle Tennessee next week.

About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and, at www.tn.gov/tema