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October 20, 2017
PHS Commissioned Corps Deploys to Hurricanes

NIH’ers responding to Harvey and Irma
included (from l) CDR Angel Garced, LCDR
Tameka Kastner and LT Neil Barranta.
NIH’ers responding to Harvey and Irma included (from l) CDR Angel Garced, LCDR Tameka Kastner and LT Neil Barranta.

When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma—the only category 4 Atlantic storms to ever hit the U.S. in the same year—made landfall, members of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps went into action.

In response to Harvey, more than 500 officers from 21 federal agencies made ready. Three of them were from NIH: CDR Angel Garced, an NEI nurse consultant; LCDR Tameka Kastner, a safety and occupational health specialist in the Office of the Director; and LT Neil Barranta, clinical nurse manager at the Clinical Center.

Garced and Barranta were assigned to federal medical stations as direct care providers, while Kastner assumed the role of safety officer in the incident command system. They were among 79 PHS officers initially deployed for 2 weeks in Houston.

The NIH’ers were later mobilized to several locations in west Florida, including Fort Myers and Sarasota County in response to Irma. Some of the PHS officers were also assigned to a Disaster Medical Assistance Team to provide a variety of health care services.

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