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Florida nurse ready for duty when Hurricane Irma hits

A Canadian nurse now living in Florida is determined to stand her ground when Hurricane Irma hits the Sunshine State on Sunday.

Nancy Teske Wissler, who works at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, said she will be on duty to treat people affected by the hurricane.

Wissler, originally from Buckingham, Quebec, but now a Florida resident, said she has no plans to leave despite repeated calls by Florida governor Rick Scott for residents to evacuate the state. Scott predicted the impact of the most powerful hurricane to be formed in the Atlantic could be “deadly.”

“I have no choice,” Wissler said. “I have to be in the hospital as soon as the hurricane is over.” It is expected to hit Florida Sunday, but Floridians should feel its effects as early as Saturday.

On Friday, the hospital was still quiet, she said, but some patients had already been transferred there from evacuated areas further south, like the Keys. Some patients were evacuated by plane to Alabama, while the others were sent to Miami.

Wissler, a nursing supervisor assigned to coordinate and assign staff after the hurricane, said the hospital will be closed but patients who are already there will remain when the hurricane hits.

Many of the nurses and other staff on the A Team, assigned to care for the patients during the hurricane, live in the evacuated areas, she said. “They go to the hospital because they have nowhere to go,” she says.

Others, like Wissler, whose house is in Hollywood, just outside the evacuation zone, are on the B Team, which is assigned to take over as soon as the hurricane is over.

“We’ll let the team go home and see what’s left of their homes,” she said hesitantly. “Everyone is pretty nervous.”

But medical emergencies are well coordinated in the sector, she says, noting that there is a detailed plan for disaster situations with multiple injuries.

The public system in Miami-Dade County, the Jackson Health System, was placed in a state of emergency at 7:00 am on Saturday.