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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

2011 Tropical Storm Irene Response in Vermont

HPP-Supported Preparation and Interoperable Communications Help Vermont Weather Hurricane Irene

When Tropical Storm Irene struck Vermont, it caused flooding, road closures and power outages.  The state’s e-mail system temporarily crashed.  However, Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP)-funded training, exercises and interoperable communications helped the state respond effectively to the public health threats posed by the storm.
HPP worked with hospitals before the storm was even predicted to help them plan for disasters.  Current and updated procedures gave all hospitals a pre-defined strategy that they could rely on for shelter in place and hospital evacuation.  HPP also funded training on the National Incident Management System.  Before the storm made landfall, hospitals began preparing for the storm by activating their Emergency Operations Centers and planning for their staff to stay overnight in case they were needed to treat large numbers of patients. 
In addition to helping the state plan, HPP provided material assets that helped Vermont to weather the storm, including radio equipment and pharmaceutical caches.  A HPP-funded mobile medical unit was positioned at a centrally located hospital and was ready for deployment in case it was needed.
During a disaster, states and hospitals would normally rely on the Hospital Available Beds for Emergencies and Disasters (HAvBED) system, which tracks the availability of hospital beds during an emergency - but the system couldn’t be used because many of the state’s communications systems were not working.   However, hospital personnel and state employees have been trained in how to communicate bed status, so they had the information they needed to get patients the care they needed.

  • This page last reviewed: May 16, 2012