Preparation is everything; this week, a team of emergency responders conducted a drill to ensure the best response if a hurricane threatens. Key West Fire and Rescue, Monroe County Fire and Rescue, the Lower Keys Medical Center, and the U.S. Air Force Air National Guard participated.
If Monroe County calls for a mandatory evacuation, patients must be flown out to other hospitals. During the drill, volunteers posing at patients were transported from the hospital to the tarmac at the Naval Air Station Key West, where the volunteer patients were boarded on a transport plane.
"Teamwork and practice mean that we're ready should a storm come our way," said Key West Emergency Manager Capt. Gregory Barroso. "We need to be sure we coordinate ambulance and air service to keep the patients safe under a hurricane threat."
The last mandatory evacuation order in the Keys was in 2017 for Hurricane Irma. But there are no guarantees, said Capt. Barroso. In 2004 there were four calls for a mandatory evacuation and three the following year.
While emergency managers are practicing, the community is reminded to do the same. Be sure your hurricane plan is in place if we have more than a drill this season.
In the photo from L to R: Division Chief of EMS Keith Hernandez, Fire Chief Alan Averette, Medical Director Dr. Tony Gandia, Captain David Zarate, Paramedics Brittany Larosa, Logan Neller, Bobby Ruble, and Angelo Guieb.