COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - South Carolina hospitals are receiving patients evacuated from islands in the Caribbean that were devastated by Hurricane Maria.
The patients will be arriving by way of military aircraft. A few patients arrived on Sunday, however, officials say the majority of the patients are set to arrive later in the week. The patients will be dropped off at the Columbia airport and then taken to hospitals from there.
South Carolina is one of only three states to accept patients from the islands.
Patients' conditions range from critical to stable.
"Yesterday we got reports that it could be upwards of 300 patients that have to be moved," said Jeff Straub with the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System. "We know that they are out of power and they are out of water and it's a very humbling experience for everybody involved."
The Department of Defense's Federal Coordination Center (FCC) and the South Carolina Forestry Commission's Incident Management Team are coordinating the effort.
The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) is supporting the effort to move the patients. NDMS is activated when an incident is so large that it overwhelms local agencies' ability to respond with sufficient medical aid. This is the first time in U.S. history that a Department of Defense staffed FCC has been activated.