MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WDVM) — The Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Emergency Management hosted a full-scale deployment exercise Thursday morning with the Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System.
DEMPS volunteers had the opportunity to practice real-world scenarios and more than 40 VA employees from across the nation attended to learn how to assist veterans and their families during a disaster as an efficient team.
“We train like we deploy putting our volunteers into controlled austere conditions so they can learn what needs to be done like the resources, equipment, plans, procedures and such to take care of the veterans that have been impacted.” VA Health Affairs National Deployment Operation Program Officer Karen Newell. “It just creates more efficiency for us so that we can get that access restored quickly to our veterans. Either way, they can come to us or we can take it to them.”
Volunteers had the chance to experience Big Blue, a multi-use command vehicle for communications purposes of which there are only 13 positioned throughout the U.S. Also, a C-Fort was available that has three exam rooms to respond to an incident immediately, which there are only eight located.
“Even people who aren’t here are getting to learn from this exercise and get their input in of how can we make an actual deployment more smooth to provide the best care to those in need,” said VA ICU Nursing Assistant & DEMPS Team Member Adam Huckfeldt. “If we’re called upon this fall, we’ll answer the phone call and say yes, we’ll go.”
Newell commented too that they are ready to respond typically within two-to-24 hours of the crisis depending on its location.