Mobilizing mobile medical units for hurricane relief: the United States Public Health Service and Broward County Health Department response to hurricane Wilma, Broward County, Florida

J Public Health Manag Pract. Sep-Oct 2007;13(5):447-52. doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000285195.39179.7d.


Objectives: To describe the outcomes of a collaborative response of federal, state, county, and local agencies in conducting syndromic surveillance and delivering medical care to persons affected by the storm through the use of mobile medical units.

Methods: Nine mobile medical vans were staffed with medical personnel to deliver care in communities affected by the storm. Individual patient encounter information was collected.

Results: A total of 14,033 housing units were approached and checked for occupants. Of residents with whom contact was made, approximately 10 percent required medical assessment in their homes; 3,218 clients were medically evaluated on the mobile medical vans. Sixty-two percent of clients were female. The most common presenting complaints included normal health maintenance (59%), upper respiratory tract illness (10%), and other illness (10%). Injuries occurred in 9 percent. A total of 1,531 doses of medications were dispensed from the mobile medical units during the response.

Conclusion: Mobile medical units provided an efficient means to conduct syndromic surveillance and to reach populations in need of medical care who were unable to access fixed local medical facilities.

MeSH terms

  • Disaster Planning / organization & administration
  • Disasters
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Florida
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • Local Government*
  • Mobile Health Units / organization & administration*
  • Public Health Practice*
  • Relief Work / organization & administration
  • Rescue Work / organization & administration
  • United States
  • United States Public Health Service / organization & administration*