County EMS team heads south to help in expected hurricane

The Anderson County Emergency Medical Service is sending a team of two employees to aid in disaster response in Florida as the Sunshine State prepares for the anticipated landfall of Hurricane Ian later this week.

Scott Thomas, a critical-care paramedic and assistant director of Anderson County EMS, and Bobbie Jo Henderson, a paramedic and deputy director of education, both deployed to Central Florida Monday afternoon.

Thomas and Henderson, with assistance from other EMS employees, outfitted an Anderson County EMS ambulance with additional supplies and personal needs and joined other ambulance crews from across Tennessee.

They are part of a strike team of EMS and disaster-response workers who are going to aid those in the projected path of Hurricane Ian.

“Anderson County EMS has deployed for similar situations previously, and is honored to help those in need when we can,” director Nathan Sweet wrote in an e-mail to county commissioners Monday afternoon. “We do not know their mission, nor the exact response location at this time.

“We are fortunate to be in a position that we can continue to provide the same level of coverage here to our community, and send help to Florida,” Sweet said. “I am proud of our staff who will drop everything here to leave so quickly and go so far away from home to help people they have never met.”

Sweet said he was contacted Sunday and was asked if Anderson County EMS might have any units available for a possible deployment to Florida the next day. By Monday morning, the team was on alert and by noon, the deployment was activated. Thomas and Henderson had their ambulance packed and ready to go within two hours.

The strike-team members could be asked to help with emergency medical services. “We ask everyone to please pray for the people of Florida, as well our team members and all the other first responders who are answering the call for help,” Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said.

Florida could start feeling Ian’s wrath as early as Tuesday, with hurricane conditions potentially hitting the state Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. Monday afternoon, Ian was about 120 miles west-northwest of Grand Cayman, heading north-northwest at 13 mph, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said.

This isn’t the first time Anderson County EMS employees have deployed as part of strike teams to aid those in other areas. Team members have deployed twice previously to Florida for hurricane relief.