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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Federal Mobile Medical Unit Departs Gulf of Mexico

National Disaster Medical System Unit Transitions Care to Local Provider Group

October 4, 2010
A federal mobile medical unit departed from Venice, La., yesterday as a local medical group began providing basic medical care for responders of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at the responder staging site in Venice.

The mobile medical unit arrived in Venice May 31 at the request of the Unified Area Command, which managed the joint government-industry response to the spill. The unit was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. It was staffed by a medical team from the National Disaster Medical System (NMDS) – a doctor, two nurses, two emergency medical technician-paramedics and a pharmacist.

The federally funded unit and NDMS staff will be replaced by RemoteMD, a private health care group headquartered in New Orleans. Paid through a contract with BP, medical professionals from RemoteMD will provide care in the same location as the federal mobile medical unit using a privately owned mobile medical clinic.

“Over the past five months, we have worked closely with Unified Area Command to ensure the provision of adequate medical care for all responders, with state and local health authorities to provide seamless integration with the local healthcare system, and have talked with residents and responders to understand the health and medical needs in the community,” said Nicole Lurie, M.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. “Now that there is a temporary local clinic for the health care needs at the Venice response site, it’s appropriate for us to transition medical care to these community providers.”

HHS activated the National Disaster Medical System May 28 as a precaution in case Gulf states needed additional medical support as a result of the oil spill. NDMS personnel come from around the country to serve as intermittent federal employees, spending up to two weeks a year providing care in emergency situations.

The NDMS staff integrated with the local medical community to provide basic care for responders in Venice. Patients were treated and released, or treated and referred to local health care providers or hospitals as appropriate for follow-up care.

From June 1 through Sept. 27, the staff treated 778 responders. Of these patients, approximately 75 percent were seen for acute conditions such as respiratory, skin, gastrointestinal and eye-related illnesses; approximately13 percent for injuries, including bites and stings, musculoskeletal injuries such as back injuries, sprains and strains, and cuts and bruises. Ten percent of patients were seen for other routine medical problems.

Although medical care for responders is transitioning to RemoteMD, HHS agencies continue to work with BP and state and local agencies to monitor the health impacts of the spill including seafood safety and behavioral health. HHS is also designing a study of the spill’s long-term impact on the health of responders and residents.

More information on the HHS response to Deepwater Horizon is available at To learn more about the National Disaster Medical System, visit   

  • This page last reviewed: October 04, 2010