18 years post Hurricane Katrina: 3 lessons from local EMS

Reflections from New Orleans medics who remember what it was like to work in one of the largest disaster medical response efforts in Louisiana history

Upon reflection, most medics who worked in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina are able to recall a mixture of fragmented and vivid memories 18 years later. The smells. The sights. The sounds. The darkness. The isolation. The heat. The death. The comradery. The joy of a water bottle shower. Most of all, the need for survival by any means necessary to continue to help those in need despite their own personal loss.  

I was activated at our unit in Belle Chasse to work EOC to dispatch missions during Hurricane Katrina. A few days prior to landfall, I remember our military unit assembled shoulder to shoulder for a commander brief preparing us for a statewide activation. The usual missions were underway, secretly hoping for another narrow escape for the city. Little did we know how our lives, landscape, and culture would forever change.

I spoke with several EMS providers who were instrumental to Hurricane Katrina response efforts, who shared 3 primary lessons from the disaster response.

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