MILTON — An emergency medicine physician from Milton, Dr. James MacNeal, has returned home after assisting the federal medical response to Hurricane Dorian as part of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS).

Dr. MacNeal serves as a member of an NDMS Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT).

NDMS is a federal program that can support communities with medical care, veterinary care and mortuary assistance during disasters or public health emergencies at the request of states; NDMS is among the resources made available by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

“ASPR prepositioned more than 200 medical and public health personnel, along with caches of medical equipment and supplies, into areas of greatest risk for storm impact,” NDMS Acting Branch Chief Dr. Helga Scharf-Bell said. “Many of our DMAT personnel, including Dr. MacNeal, were first prepositioned in San Juan, Puerto Rico, then moved to Florida and Georgia as the path of Hurricane Dorian changed.”

DMATs remain staged in several coastal states, ready to respond where and when needed as the storm continued to move up through the Carolinas and Virginia.

Typically, DMAT personnel augment medical care at overwhelmed emergency departments, coordinate with Urban Search and Rescue teams to triage people rescued or provided basic medical care for evacuees at shelters.

Teams are deployed for up to 14 days. If needed, new teams replace teams that demobilize home. NDMS efforts to help residents of Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia will continue until the states no longer need the support.

NDMS comprises approximately 5,000 physicians, nurses, veterinary staff, paramedics, fatality management professionals, and experienced command and control staff, organized into several different response teams, including, but not limited to: Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams, National Veterinary Response Teams, and Trauma Critical Care Teams. When an emergency overwhelms local and state resources, ASPR looks to the expertise within NDMS from across the country to assist in the response.

Although they hail from communities nationwide, when deployed they are federal government employees working as part of a coordinated federal response.

To learn more about HHS’ response to the 2019 hurricanes, visit

As part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ASPR’s mission is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats.

ASPR leads the nation’s medical and public health preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters and public health emergencies.

For more information about federal medical response and NDMS, visit

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.