A Heart for Helping Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Two years ago, Michelle Hutton, Reimbursement Coordinator in the BSA Pharmacy and Lori Lineman, a Certified Pharmacy Technician began training for the Emergency Medical Task Force (EMTF). The EMTF is an organization of state medical teams who are rapidly mobilized in times of disaster.

Following Hurricane Harvey’s landfall in South Texas, Michelle reached out to ask if BSA was needed for relief efforts.

“I didn’t think we would be needed since it was so far away from Amarillo, but I wanted to offer help,” Michelle said. “The next day, they asked Lori and I to head south.”

Michelle and Lori were originally deployed to assist with medical needs in the Corpus Christi and Port Aransas area. After 24 hours there, they were sent to the Houston area where they stayed for nine days.

“We were in charge of securing the medicine and tracking inventory totals,” Lori explained. “The patients we cared for had been trapped in their homes for days and many did not have access to medications.”

During their nine-day stay, Michelle and Lori were stationed in a hospital parking lot.

“We had tents set up with entrances for patients and ambulances,” Michelle said. “Inside the tents, we had 16 beds. If we ran out of beds, we had two trailers that could hold another 16 beds.”

After being relieved from their 12-hour shifts, Lori and Michelle helped restock medications.

“We helped restock every night before bed,” Michelle shared. “Everybody was working for the same thing.  Everyone pitched in to help where they were needed. It was hard work physically, mentally and emotionally.”

During the weeks following Hurricane Harvey, more than 2,000 patients were helped by the EMTF.

“We had a lot of tetanus issues and lacerations,” Michelle said. “There were large amounts of trauma and stress, but the medical units were fantastic. The level of care the team provided was amazing.”

Patients who were treated at the medical mobile unit brought the team food and supplies to thank them for their help.

“The residents had heart-breaking stories, but even with the catastrophe around them, their main concern was not for themselves, but for our team,” Lori shared.

Michelle and Lori witnessed the destruction Hurricane Harvey had caused for the people in the area.

“We saw some really damaged houses and cars,” Michelle explained. “There was water everywhere. We saw people who lost everything and were still more concerned with how they could help others.”

 “I would help again in a heartbeat,” Lori said. “I believe it’s important for not only medical personnel to help in crisis situations, but for all people to help when they can. It was a humbling experience.”