CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Additional members of the West Virginia National Guard have been mobilized in connection to Hurricane Dorian relief efforts.
Six members of the Air Guard’s 130th Airlift Wing’s 167th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron will be staged at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to help with medical treatments and transports in the hurricane-impacted areas.
Staff Sgt. Alex Morehead, whose daily job is as an EMT in Putnam County, said the crew will be able to turn their plane into a flying hospital.
“I can see the patients and just like I would come up to it from being on the (ambulance) truck standpoint, I can approach it the same way on the plane,” Morehead said.
She anticipated the group would also be transporting some patients that have already been hospitalized.
“Hopefully we’re decompensating hospitals,” Morehead said. “We’re taking patients from that kind of hospital, with wound care, ortho injuries, and taken them to a higher level of care.”
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The Charleston-based group will join Guard crews from Wyoming, Minnesota and North Carolina in Florida. They will fly from there to anywhere on the eastern seaboard impacted by the hurricane and to the Bahamas, where the most damage occurred.
Morehead has served in the Middle East with the 167th AE but is anxious to use her training stateside.
“I am excited to finally step into this realm. It’s something that AE is supposed to be doing and supports regularly,” she said. “This is my first opportunity and I’ve super excited.”
The West Virginia National Guard already has eight soldiers who have been deployed in connection with the hurricane. The Williamstown-based aeromedical evacuation group is using a pair of Blackhawk helicopters in search and rescue support.
“The West Virginia National Guard has a proven track record of being ready and responsive when disasters strike, no matter whether it’s here in West Virginia or elsewhere in the United States,” state Adjutant General Jim Hoyer said. “In times of need, the National Guard synchronizes with local first responders, governments and civilian agencies to provide a comprehensive approach to disaster response and recovery. This mobilization of our Army and Air National Guard personnel for hurricane response is another great example of the importance and relevance the West Virginia National Guard.”