On Thursday, June 23, 2016 areas of southern West Virginia were devastated by heavy rains that resulted in widespread flash flooding. The most impacted counties in the state included Greenbrier, Nicholas, and Clay. The rapid flooding trapped numerous residents in the region and quickly overwhelmed local resources.
At 1725 hours on that date, the Marion County Rescue Squad was contacted by the Resource Manager of the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security (WVDHS). At their request the Marion County Rescue Squad deployed an advanced life support (ALS) technical rescue team comprised of 4 qualified swiftwater and urban search and rescue (US&R) technicians who are members of the Marion County Rescue Squad’s Special Operations Division. The team gathered information and was tasked to a staging area in Greenbrier County. Following this the team immediately gathered resources and responded to the region.
Marion County Rescue Squad’s team was approximately one hour away from the staging area when it encountered its first patients at 2300 hours. While traveling through the town of Charmco, WV the team noted a disabled female patient trapped in floodwaters clinging to a garage and yelling for assistance. At this time the team initiated the rescue of a total of 3 patients from the structure, bringing them out of the water and rendering medical aid to one of the patients suffering from severe hypothermia. Following this rescue, Greenbrier emergency operations center (EOC) was provided with a situation report. Greenbrier EOC stated that the roadway leading to the staging area would be impassible from the current location. It was at this time that Greenbrier EOC determined the best allocation of resources would be for the Marion County Rescue Squad team to remain in the area and continue rescue operations within the town of Charmco as needed.
The Marion County Rescue Squad was able to rendezvous with the Marion County Dive Team within Charmco and establish a staging area, command post, and triage area for patients that were removed from the flooding. Rescue operations continued throughout the night in particularly hazardous conditions. Rescuers were faced with night operations in unfamiliar terrain, heavy fog, and fast moving debris-filled water. During the course of rescue operations the combined team was able to rescue 25 total patients and 5 family pets from the water. Five of those rescued were deemed to be high priority, suffering from injuries related to the flooding that required immediate medical treatment. By 0545 on Friday, June 24 all patients within Charmco had been removed from the floodwaters and transported to a combination of flood relief centers and medical treatment facilities. The Marion County Rescue Squad and Marion County Dive Team were then redeployed to the town of Rainelle, WV for additional tasking as needed for any ongoing rescue operations.
The Marion County Rescue Squad would like to thank all involved in the rescue operations throughout the night and into the morning. A mixture of coordination and teamwork correlated to numerous successful rescues and timely transport of patients away from the impacted areas. This would not be possible if it were not for the efforts of those at the Greenbrier EOC and the WVDHS. The Marion County Rescue Squad is thankful to support and assist those in need throughout the state of West Virginia. Furthermore, we have made it our mission to continue to provide aid to those impacted areas within the state through any mean necessary.