Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Scientist Professional Advisory Committee

Deployment to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in response to extreme flooding, 2016 

By LCDR Lisa Jarvis-Durham, PhD

Deputy Director
Business Services Group
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


What was the mission of this deployment?

The team provided medical care, shelter, and public health support to citizens of Louisiana who were displaced by extreme flooding.  Our team (RDF-4) replaced another Rapid Deployment Team and within a short period of time was able to care for and discharge all remaining patients and caregivers.  Due to great team effort, the Special Needs Medical Shelter was demobilized within approximately 5 days.


What was your role during this deployment?

I served on the Admin. Team, monitored medical records, and tracked patient discharges on late night shift.


Was this your first deployment?



What was the most important thing you learned during this deployment?

Always get as much rest as possible and drink plenty of fluids prior to the deployment.


What did you enjoy the most about this deployment?

The collaboration among multiple response teams from various areas of the country was enjoyable.  The way in which we all worked together towards one purpose/goal was phenomenal. 


What would you consider to be your major accomplishment stemming from this deployment?

I grew up in Louisiana (about 45 miles outside Baton Rouge).  I was honored to serve my home state and local area.  The fact that I was able to give back to my community was deeply personal and rewarding for me.


What were some of the challenges that you experienced during this deployment?

Work adjustment: the deployment occurred at a very busy time for work, so there was some concern about being away from the job.  Regardless, I had to make sure the deployment remained my priority. Travel, to some extent, was a challenge, as most officers arrived at the New Orleans airport and some also departed to their homes from New Orleans as well.  Officers had to be bused or shuttled to and from the Baton Rouge area (approximately 80 miles distance each way).  My sleep pattern was affected, as I worked the midnight shift.  It was difficult to adjust and sleep during the day.  Overall, I imagine that a deployment that lasts for a much longer period of time would bring more challenges, such as family separation issues and employer support for any extended amount of time. 


How did you prepare for the deployment – personally or work-wise?

On a personal level, I made sure I revisited the PHS Deployment Tips and Checklists to make sure I had all the necessary items for the trip.  In addition, I took care of any personal responsibilities, such as finances.  As far as work, I did my best to get as much done as possible.  Other than that, I made requests and delegated staff to cover duties and assignments as needed during my time away. 


Were there any classes, trainings that you had completed prior to your deployment that helped you in your current deployment?

We have had presentations on topics such as "Deployment Planning" and conversations regarding what was expected of officers in the deployment arena during our Annual Team Meeting & Training. 


How was your post deployment/reintegration experience? Was it smooth to transition back to your daily life as experienced prior to deployment?

My transition back to home and work was a smooth process. 


Do you have any advice or “pearls of wisdom” for fellow officers who are being deployed/interested in deploying?

This is not advice, just a comment.  The work that each PHS officer does on a daily basis is very important; however, working in disaster relief environment is special and rewards and results can be seen on a daily basis.  I am very happy that I joined my deployment team. 


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