A new light medium tactical vehicle that can plow through four feet of water stands ready to ferry doctors, nurses and other essential employees through flooding around the Medical University of South Carolina campus. It may come in handy this week as the Lowcountry prepares for the possibility of heavy rain and wind from Hurricane Florence. Governor Henry McMaster has ordered an evacuation of the South Carolina coast.
University emergency manager Bryan Wood said the LMTV is a welcome addition to what his team had during the last big storm. “Following Hurricane Irma, with the flooding on campus we were using small boats to transport staff across campus through flooded areas. It was difficult.”
The chief operating officer of MUSC Health, Matt Wain, said making sure patients in its 800-bed medical center continue to have the care they need despite weather issues is top of mind. Outpatient clinics are part of the planning process, too. “MUSC is set up to succeed. There’s a lot of expertise on campus about hurricanes, and I’m very confident in the ability of our care teams to deliver safe, exceptional care.”
Right now, an emergency preparedness team is looking at everything from which doctors and nurses will be at MUSC Health during the time when the storm may strike to making sure there are backup systems for technology, medical supplies and more. That includes the possibility of taking in patients from hospitals that are harder hit by the storm.
“We are preparing both to deal with Hurricane Florence here in Charleston and being a receiving facility for patients in communities that might be disrupted if the storm stays on a northward trajectory,” Wain said. “We’ll be a partner with health care teams throughout the coastal region.
This afternoon, the National Weather Service Charleston reported that hurricane-force winds are likely along parts of the coasts of South and North Carolina within a few days. Wood encourages everyone, including MUSC employees, to be ready.
“One of my key messages for MUSC staff is to ensure their families are prepared for the storm,” Wood said. “We’re caregivers for everyone else in the community, but we can only act in an efficient manner at work during an emergency event if we know that our families at home are safe.”
He recommends going online today and checking out Hurricane Strong and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division’s 2018 Hurricane Guide.
MUSC, which has about 3,000 students in its six colleges, works with other universities and colleges in the Lowcountry, along with city and county emergency management teams, to make sure they’re all getting the same information and helping each other during potential events such as hurricanes.
This may be a busy hurricane season, Wood said. “I just saw a data graphic for one hurricane and it had two other hurricanes inside that data graphic, which is something you never see.”
Note to MUSC employees and students: You can sign up for the MUSC Alert system to get emergency notifications and check Yammer’s Weather Updates group. The 843-792-MUSC hotline will go live if the campus shifts to emergency operations.