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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Helicopters & Humvees

Unlike the folks in the photo above, those of us who flew in Blackhawks in the Hurricane response drill on Thursday actually WORE our badges.

Izzy jokingly called Medical Investigation "Doctors without Badges." I found that hollering at the errors in the show was oh-so-cathartic for my Friday evenings.

Hurricane Exercise:

Back to the title of the post, yes, I got to ride in a Blackhawk to and from the areas in eastern SC "affected" by the landfall of "Hurricane Isabella" late Wednesday night. Notionally (now there's a great exercise term), there was an entire wing of a hospital destroyed by tornados spun off of the storm. There were railroad bridges and roads destroyed, power was out and communities were flooded. One cell tower was out, and the Internet messaging system was out (that one was actually real. No messages from the field were getting to the State Emergency Operations Center for several hours.) We got around the county to meet up with the county emergency operations center and from there to do assessment of the "damage" in Humvees.

No photos of us inside the aircraft; this was Army property.

Also in the Army tradition, there was a lot of "hurry up and wait" on Thursday. At one point our mission was nearly scrubbed, as authorities considered diverting the helicopters to fire-fighting activities. Seeing that we might not get to ride, I decided to check-off one of the items on my yet-to-be-written list of "Things to do before I die." I strapped on my backpack and helmet and jumped out of the aircraft. Not having packed a parachute, it was no shock that one did not deploy.

Summary of Thursday:

2 Blackhawk rides.
5 trips in Humvees.
1 jump, which I survived despite a parachute not deploying.

That's the story I'd tell the grandkids, were we to have had any. It's my spin on the truth and much more interesting that a discussion of what we'd do to set up special medical needs shelters.

Let's hope we don't need to use what we've practiced any time too soon.

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