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South Carolina organizations unite in historic mission of mercy

West Columbia - The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) and Federal Coordination Center (FCC) have been activated at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport and have begun receiving patients evacuated from medical facilities in Puerto Rico and other Caribbean islands affected by recent hurricanes.

The mission is a joint effort between the US Army Medical Activity Department Fort Jackson (MEDDAC FJ), the South Carolina Forestry Commission, the South Carolina State Guard, and several other local, state, and federal agencies and organizations with additional support from over a dozen regional hospitals and healthcare facilities. This is the first time that a Department of Defense FCC has been activated.

"This is history in the making, and I could not be prouder of the joint efforts of all the participating agencies that are making this mission successful," Col. Eric Edwards, NDMS Incident Commander, said.

Since its activation, the Midlands team has received and transported four patients. At least two more are expected today and many more could arrive over the next 72 hours, given reports of the deteriorating conditions in Puerto Rico as a result of the flooding. These patients are triaged onsite and then transferred to a local hospital where they receive further treatment.

"Thanks to the support of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and Maj. Gen. John P. Johnson the Fort Jackson Commanding General, as well as the hard work of all the participating agencies and organizations, we are ready to receive as many patients as we are asked to," Edwards said.

The NDMS is designed to assist in the coordination of governmental, non-profit, and medical emergency resources into a unified response to natural disasters and acts of domestic terrorism. NDMS is activated when an incident is so large that it overwhelms local agencies' ability to respond with sufficient medical aid. In addition to the Columbia FCC, two other FCC’s have been activated: Atlanta, Ga. and Shreveport, La.

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