Lessons learned from the worst hurricane in state history

By September 26, 2019 April 7th, 2020 Uncategorized
Medical professionals respond to emergencies during Hurricane Michael

Scientists in the United States have been tracking hurricanes since 1850, but modern technology has improved our knowledge about the storms. Although weather experts can predict hurricane paths and strengths, it is still difficult to prepare for the devastation that results when nature violently clashes with our communities.

Emergency teams and city leaders along the gulf coast had been meeting for several days going over scenarios and preparing for potential landfall. When Hurricane Michael made its final turn northeast toward the Florida panhandle, residents of southern Alabama, and much of southwest and central Georgia, braced for impact.

Delivering a baby during the worst hurricane in Georgia history

“During Hurricane Michael, we had lost power, there were trees down blocking roads, and we got a call that a woman who was 27 weeks pregnant was in labor,” said Ginger Cushing, administrator of Lifebrite Community Hospital of Early in Blakely, Georgia. “Police ended up bringing her into the hospital, and we delivered the baby. But we had to make a decision to send our team with the baby to a hospital with a NICU.”

That decision to send the team was a lesson in cooperation and perseverance.

The infant’s mother walked more than a mile before being spotted by local police and transported to Lifebrite. She delivered the baby almost immediately, and the hospital staff began searching for a way to get the baby to the nearest Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) two counties away.

The team was in communication with the NICU staff at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, but air transport systems were grounded as far away as Birmingham. The NICU staff left Albany by ambulance but could not reach Blakely. The Emergency Medical Team began working to help clear the roads with a chainsaw and eventually hitched a ride with the father of a marine who helped them get to the hospital.

When the Lifebrite team and the Phoebe team connected, they made certain the baby was stabilized before transporting her and her mother to Columbus, where beds were available in another hospital.

Lessons learned after the storm

More than a year later, the lessons learned during Hurricane Michael still resonate throughout southwest Georgia. The collaborative efforts of three different hospital systems and the efforts of emergency medical teams worked as planned to provide quality care for the community in a time of crisis.

Hurricanes are not solely a coastal event. They can inflict damage and injuries hundreds of miles inland. Before it was over, Hurricane Michael is responsible for as many as 75 deaths and caused more than $25 billion in damages.

After the storm, the National Hurricane Center re-evaluated and upgraded Hurricane Michael to a Category 5 hurricane—making it the strongest to ever hit the Florida panhandle and the first major storm to hit Georgia since the 1800s.

Atlanta-based LifeBrite, led by CEO Christian Fletcher, operates LifeBrite Laboratories and LifeBrite Community Hospital of Stokes. To learn more about Lifebrite Community Hospital of Early, visit our homepage.