On September 1, Hurricane Dorian made landfall over The Bahamas’ Abaco Islands with sustained wind speeds of 185 miles per hour - a Category 5 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
In the aftermath of this storm, a team of Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) special agents were both on the ground and in the air protecting personnel from the United States Embassy in Nassau and from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) as well as conducting joint operations with the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy, and Virginia Task Force 1 – an urban search and rescue team from Fairfax, Virginia as they supported relief efforts in the Bahamas.
As a part of this effort, a DSS Mobile Security Deployments team -- the U.S. Department of State’s security and crisis response element -- protected the USAID’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) when it flew to the outlying areas to assess damage, identify humanitarian needs, and bring urgently needed assistance to those affected by this hurricane.
During one such mission, State Department's Operational Medicine and a U.S. Navy corpsman determined a Bahamian citizen needed emergency medevac. The DSS Mobile Security Deployments personnel helped evacuate this injured person and made sure all of the USAID personnel made it safely back to the Nassau airport.
In addition to supporting the U.S. Embassy and USAID’s DART team in the Bahamas, DSS also provided critical assistance to support efforts to rescue U.S. citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian. For example, while on a survey mission in support of USAID’s DART team in Treasure Cay, the Mobile Security Deployments team was approached by three U.S. citizens requesting assistance to find another American citizen lost at sea.
Our Mobile Security Deployments team used information gathered from these concerned friends and from their advanced communications and GPS systems to identify the missing person’s point of departure and likely route. They were able to relay this critical, time-sensitive information to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Rescue Center and the Bahamian National Emergency Management Agency tracking center who used it to locate the missing American’s boat, which had a suffered mechanical failure, and tow the boat and the American citizen back to safety. Once the boat was ashore, our Mobile Security Deployments team transported one of the Americans to Marsh Harbor Airport to coordinate transportation for the remaining friends safely back to the United States.
A key part of the global mission of DSS is to help ensure the safety of Department personnel and U.S. citizens around the world. It is our proud honor to execute this mission in support of our partner nations, colleagues, and citizens when they need us most.
Read more about DSS and the State Department's support of U.S. relief efforts in The Bahamas.
About the Author: Lee Evans serves in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.