Employee Education System
EES Offers Unconventional Assistance to the VHA Emergency Management Following Hurricane Ida
Typically, the Employee Education System (EES) partners with VHA’s program offices, Veterans Integrated Service Networks and medical facilities to provide quality workforce education and training to improve the care of the Nation’s Veterans. More recently, however, in the wake of Hurricane Ida, this mission was altered temporarily to include securing hotel rooms for deploying members of the Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) team.
With the encounter of Hurricane Ida in late August, the state of Louisiana experienced catastrophic devastation once again, leaving the New Orleans VA Medical Center (VAMC) in need of more personnel support than has ever been requested. The VHA Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Emergency Management Coordination Cell (EMCC) stepped up to deploy the DEMPS team – consisting of doctors, nurses and other necessary staff – in a hurry, but due to the damage from Hurricane Ida, there were no hotel rooms to be found within 150 miles of New Orleans. Many DEMPS volunteers were forced to sleep in the New Orleans VAMC until a solution could be determined.
OEM and EMCC personnel reached out to EES and requested the assistance of EES assets to support DEMPS in finding available hotel space. EES worked with their resources and that of the VA Financial Services Center (FSC), and shortly after, with a need for only 40 hotel rooms, EES was able to secure 55 rooms in New Orleans, granting housing to the most emergent volunteers needed. The request for more hotel rooms grew to a need for 275 to accommodate additional DEMPS personnel being deployed. EES was then able to secure 170 additional hotel rooms within six hours, leading EES to fulfill the immediate needs of OEM and EMCC in just a few short days.
The quick work of EES staff ensured that the DEMPS deployment was a success and that the Veterans in dire need, caused by the devastation left by Hurricane Ida, would receive the support and services they so desperately needed.