Glendale battalion chief deployed to help victims of Hurricane Sandy

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- More help from the valley is headed to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

Glendale Fire Battalion Chief Chris Gustafson was deployed to New York on Monday, as part of a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).  A DMAT is a group of medical personnel organized to provide rapid-response medical care during a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other incident.

DMATs are part of the National Disaster Medical System and operate under the Department of Health and Human Services. Team members are normally on alert 3 times a year for one month at a time. AZ-1 DMAT was on call for December, but was activated early to replace teams that were operating in the area following Hurricane Sandy.

Right now the team is stationed at Nassau Community College in New York, providing medical care and monitoring for a large shelter. One section of the shlelter is housing a special needs care area for close to 40 nursing home patients who were displaced. Care includes day-to-day needs, wound dressing changes, medicine refills and locating new living quarters.

In another area, more than 600 people are sheltered in the gym, and care is provided through a 24-hour clinic staffed by DMAT. The main concern at the moment is controlling the spread of the Norovirus (stomach flu) through the shelter population.

The team is staffed with 42 members from Arizona and supplemented with personnel from teams from Alaska, Kentucky, Utah, Maryland, Colorado, Hawaii and Oklahoma for a total of 66 personnel.

Glendale’s Battalion Chief Chris Gustafson is scheduled to spend two weeks in the hurricane-ravaged area. Currently, he is acting Operations Chief for the team and filling in as needed with medical duties.