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Incident Command Adaptations during Sustained Mega-Shelter Medical Clinic Operations during 2017 Hurricane Harvey Response in Dallas, Texas

  • E. Liang Liu (a1), Lindsay A. Flax (a1), Kelly R. Klein (a1), Raymond L. Fowler (a1) and Raymond E. Swienton (a1)...

Abstract

Introduction:

The Dallas Convention Center received over 3800 evacuees because of the unprecedented flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. A multidisciplinary medical clinic was established onsite to address evacuee needs for medical evaluations, emergency care, chronic disease management, pharmaceuticals, durable medical equipment, and local health services integration. To operate efficiently, the Dallas Mega-Shelter Emergency Operations Center (EOC) worked with the Mega-Shelter Medical Clinic (MMC) under a fluid incident command (IC) structure that was National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant. Iterations of MMC IC demonstrated maturations in organizational structure while supporting MMC operations that varied from rigid NIMS doctrine.

Aim:

To explore the use of a fluid IC structure at a large evacuation medical shelter after Hurricane Harvey.

Methods:

We observed evolutions of IC organizational charts and operational impacts.

Results:

Modifications through just-in-time iterations of the IC organizational chart were posted and reviewed with MMC IC and EOC sector chiefs. Changes in the organizational chart were noted to improve identification of logistical needs, supply delivery, coordinate with other agencies, and to make decisions for resource typing and personnel utilization. Adaptations also improved communication, which led to timely situational awareness and reporting accuracy.

Discussion:

MMC medical services were improved by allowing modifications and adaptations to NIMS compliant MMC IC organizational roles and duty assignments. The fluidity of IC structure with ability for just-in-time modifications directly impacted the provision of disaster medical services. Unique situational awareness, coordination of care pathways within the local innate health infrastructure, compliance with health service regulations, and personnel resource typing all contributed to and benefitted from these IC modifications. MMC and EOC IC collaboration facilitated effective communication and maintained an appropriate span of control and efficient activity reporting.

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