By Janee Law
Huntington resident Charles “Chuck” Jarmon returned from a two-week stint in Puerto Rico where he provided medical support for victims impacted by Hurricane Maria.
He was deployed as a paramedic with the National Disaster Medical System DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Teams) New York-2 from Oct. 15-Oct. 31 and stationed at the Federal Medical Shelter set up at the Coliseum Bencito in Manati, Puerto Rico. The team was composed of physicians, nurses, paramedics, respiratory therapists, and emergency medical technicians.
Hurricane Maria made landfall in September as a Category 4 hurricane that left the entire island of Puerto Rico without power. Jarmon, 49, said that, during their operation, the coliseum was running off generator power and there were times workers were stuck in the dark.
With 150 beds at the coliseum, Jarmon said, his team worked 12-hour shifts during the deployment and would see more than 250 patients in a 24-hour period.
“These were people who potentially lost their homes, who had no power, had no drinking water and really had no access to, in many cases, primary care medical services,” Jarmon said. “Their physician offices were closed, the pharmacies were closed, and the hospitals were overrun and, in some cases, couldn’t take care of patients. We provided that necessary bridge in health care services that the people of Puerto Rico needed.”
Jarmon said his goal was to provide an augmentation of necessary health care services and to help move in triage patients that were seeking care. He stabilized critically ill patients before they could be brought out to the hospital, issued prescription refills, and sutured wounds.
“It really bridged the complete dynamic of health care,” he added. “We were able to see any and all types of patient conditions that were being presented to us.”
He said what stood out was the profound devastation that occurred and the resiliency from the people of Puerto Rico.
“It was a completely humbling experience. I was amazed by the amount of appreciation and the gratefulness that the people of Puerto Rico were demonstrating for us being there,” Jarmon said. “It was a calling to really be able to help others in their greatest time of need and it was truly a greatest time of need.”
Jarmon has been with the National Disaster Medical System organization since 2010. He is currently the assistant vice president for North Shore-LIJ Health System, a faculty member for FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness, and an adjunct assistant professor at Hofstra University.
He earned his master’s in public health and a master’s in business administration from the State of Connecticut University System.
Jarmon also had a short deployment to Florida to assist those affected by Hurricane Irma and has responded to several national incidents, including the 1995 Special Olympic World Games, September 11, 2001, Superstorm Sandy and the 2015 National Peace Officer’s Memorial.