Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service

Scientist Professional Advisory Committee

Hurricane Maria Response, 2017 

By CAPT Michael Smith

Senior Regulatory Reviewer
Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research, Office of Vaccines Research & Review
Division of Vaccines and Related Product Applications
U.S. Food and Drug Administration


What was the mission of this deployment?

We facilitated dialysis treatments for patients who relocated from St. Thomas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico into temporary housing at Florida International University in Miami, Florida.


What was your role during this deployment?

I was a Logistics Officer.


Was this your first deployment?

No, this was my 4th deployment.


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

Be flexible and understand that orders affecting the entire deployment can change on short notice.


What did you enjoy the most about this deployment?

The aspect of this deployment that I liked most was being housed in hotels with two officers per room instead of sleeping on cots with many officers in the room.


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

Helping the medical staff as needed by delivering medical supplies to them.


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

Helping medical staff provide showers to the male patients.


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

I provided a colleague at the FDA with a list of all of my activities that needed to be accomplished while I was deployed. I also alerted the FDA personnel who route files to my attention that I was out of office and who was covering for me during my absence.


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

The classes that are required for the Field Medical Readiness Badge (FRMB).


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

Yes, it was easy to transition back to my daily life as experienced prior to deployment – this wasn't my "first rodeo," and it was only 3 weeks.


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

Get a larger deployment bag with wheels for most of your gear and a smaller backpack for your "go bag.”  The smaller bag should be able to sustain you for a couple of days, so pack it accordingly.






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