Hurricane IrmaIn this special mega double episode, we bring you a look at Harvey from our demobilized Federal team members, Dr. Joe Holley (from our sponsors Paragon Medical Education Group) and Sam Bradley. Then we talk about about what is to come as both podcast regulars prepare to head back out the door to get ready for the response to Hurricane Irma.

We start out this week’s special hurricane episode with a report from our disaster weather expert Kyle Nelson on the THREE hurricanes present in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Of course, the most concerning is Hurricane Irma a monstrous category 5 hurricane with winds in the center sustained at 185 miles per hour.

Get updates on hurricanes at Hurricanes.gov.

How Hurricane Irma Got So Big

Kyle answers some questions regarding how tropical cyclones (hurricanes) are formed. He talks about water temperature, upper level wind structure, and the presence of a tropical wave weather disturbance as being the primary factors that influence the formation of a tropical storm or hurricane.

After Kyle’s weather update, we transitioned to talk with Dr. Joe Holley and co-host Sam Bradley about their recent deployment to the Houston, Texas area for the Hurricane Harvey aftermath. Joe was deployed with the federal incident support team (IST). Sam was deployed with the Joint Patient Assessment and Tracking System (JPATS) team.

Challenges Finding Dry Land In Houston

Joe relates the challenges faced by the USAR teams just trying to find a dry place to stage their equipment. Several times they’d start setting up their IST command center only to have to quickly pack everything up when flood waters rose in their area and ended up flooding their location. On one occasion, their location was dry but they were surrounded by rapidly rising flood waters and unable to deploy until the water receded.

In the midst of this, they still managed to work with local, state, and federal resources to rescue tens of thousands of people from their flooded homes. Joe comments on the combination of the resilience of the local community to fend for themselves along with the highly trained and capable teams brought in from other areas.

Sam talks about her JPATS team to coordinate patient evacuation disposition to other facilities. Her team, newly formed, took a little time to get oriented to the task at hand but coordinated very well with Texas state resources. She remarks that as the team deploys for Irma, they will be much more prepared as a team for the task at hand.

Hurricane Irma and Spaghetti Models Explained

As the focus shifts to Hurricane Irma and it’s impacts in the Caribbean, Joe talks about the USAR challenges on the islands with destroyed buildings and infrastructure. That also translates back to what might happen along the coast of Florida or other areas.

Kyle jumps in and answers a question Sam has about what some people on the internet call “spaghetti models” of the proposed hurricane tracks. He talks about the need for the lay public to leave the modeling to the experts and focus on the National Hurricane Center cone they put out to depict the probable storm path.

Joe answers a question about how social media impacted the way rescue operations in Texas were implemented and may well signify a change that carries over to the Hurricane Irma response, too. He relates several occasions where using tagging on social media channels helped direct resources to specific calls for help in a given area. Here’s an article about the bolstered wireless infrastructure that helped with keeping people connected during and after Hurricane Harvey.

More Episodes to Come From Irma Response

We will be bringing you more special updates from our deployed Disaster Podcast team members as we get them in.

Stay tuned here to the Disaster Podcast website at DisasterPodcast.com or on our Disaster Podcast Facebook group for updates and discussion.


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Check out this episode and if you have questions, leave them here or on our new disaster podcast Facebook Group.


Paragon Brings “The Experience”

Paragon Medical Education Group specializes in bringing what they call “The Experience” to jurisdictions around the country. They bring together police, fire, EMS, and hospital teams to train together and learn what to expect from each diverse group in the response team so that each knows what to expect from the other and how to back the other groups up. Visit Paragon’s site at ParagonMedicalGroup.com for more information on how this can be brought into your system.

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