Atlanta Emergency Physician Assisting Federal Health Response to Hurricane Florence


An emergency physician from Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Jesse Cannon, has deployed to North Carolina to assist the federal medical response to Hurricane Florence as part of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). Dr. Cannon 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).

“Because Florence was such a large and powerful hurricane as it approached the East Coast, HHS brought in more than 500 medical responders ahead of the storm so we would be close if our help was needed after the hurricane made landfall,” NDMS Acting Director Ron Miller said. “In addition to personnel, HHS also deployed medical equipment and supplies the teams would use and Federal Medical Stations to augment care should North Carolina’s health care infrastructure need this level of support.”

Since landfall, DMAT personnel have provided medical care at two evacuation shelters in Virginia and four evacuation shelters in North Carolina. DMAT personal also are available to supplement staff shortages at hospitals and embed with Urban Search and Rescue to triage patients rescued in the aftermath of the storm.  

HHS experts continue to work with state partners to assess impacts on the health systems and identify any needs for assistance as flood waters crest and begin to recede. NDMS efforts to help residents of North Carolina will continue until the state no longer needs the support. 

NDMS comprises approximately 5,000 physicians, nurses, veterinary staff, paramedics, fatality management professionals, and experienced command and control staff, organized into more than 70 response 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 2018 hurricanes, please 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