Chatham County approves staff increase for hurricane evacuations

Chatham County approves staff increase for hurricane evacuations

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Hurricane season officially starts in about a week, so it’s a time to start thinking about family evacuation plans, especially for those with special medical needs.

There is a medical registry that the Coastal Health District keeps and uses to get the more vulnerable population out of harm’s way quickly and safely.

Friday, the Chatham County Commission approved an item that will increase the number of staff members who help evacuate people on the list. During the meeting, county commissioners approved an agreement - a partnership with local home health care provider, THA Group, to help with the evacuation of functional, access and medical needs residents during emergency and disaster events.

“Allows us to use their staff as force multipliers for the county, so it allows those people who normally deal with medically fragile people to be able to assist us in assisting them during the evacuation process," said Dennis Jones, Director, Chatham Emergency Management Agency.

Jones says the additional staff from THA Group will ride paratransit buses to evacuees’ homes and help those on the medical registry with things like loading up luggage before escorting them to a staging area.

“Basically, just be a level of assistance for those who are evacuating," Jones said.

He says the need for additional staffing was made apparent during evacuations for hurricanes Matthew and Irma.

“During Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Irma, we had challenges in communicating information to the general public, and when you’re talking about functional, access and medical needs, those are specialty populations where you have to have special messages, and you have to make sure that you’re handling and tracking and just treating those particular citizens in a unique kind of way.”

No money was needed to establish the agreement.

THA Group will be reimbursed once activated in an evacuation situation for any eligible expenses.

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