Global & Disaster Medicine

Strategic National Stockpile & its role during Harvey

The Strategic National Stockpile supported the federal government’s response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana with Federal Medical Stations (FMS), personnel strike teams, and liaison officers. Overall, the stockpile deployed 6 FMS sets with 250 beds each, 12 FMS strike team members, 1 liaison to the Incident Response Coordination Team in Texas and 3 liaisons to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary’s Operations Center in Washington, D.C. Two FMS were set up and operational in Houston – one at the George R. Brown Convention Center and the other at the NRG Center. An additional four FMS were ready on standby – two in Texas and two in Louisiana – so they could be set up at a moment’s notice. Approximately 45 staffers also served in the stockpile’s team room at CDC headquarters.

Harvey_FMS Setup GRB Convention Center

Federal Medical Station setup at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

Somewhere between a temporary shelter and temporary hospital, a Federal Medical Station is a non-emergency medical center set up during a natural disaster to care for displaced persons with special health needs—including those with chronic health conditions, limited mobility, or common mental health issues—that cannot be met in a shelter for the general population during an incident.

The modular and rapidly deployable reserve of beds, supplies, and medicines provides equipment to care for 50–250 people for three days before resupply is needed. Flexible and scalable, it can be tailored to meet the requirements of each incident and has the ability to increase local healthcare capabilities in mass casualty events or in response to potential public health threats.

Federal Medical Stations operate through the cooperation of federal, state, and local authorities and require pre-planning and pre-identification of potential locations, based on specific selection criteria. Prior to an emergency event, state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies collaborate with the Department of Health and Human Services regional emergency coordinators to survey sites and identify any gaps that may need addressing during a response.

The stockpile also deploys the Federal Medical Station Strike Team, which is a group of technical specialists with specific, in-depth knowledge of the stockpile and supply operations. This specialized team can assist federal and state responders, clinicians, and public health staff with identifying a suitable facility, receiving and staging equipment, and on-the-spot training to volunteers who will assemble the equipment (e.g., beds and nurses stations). The strike team can also request additional material as needed.

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