Administrator Deployed to Washington DC for Presidential Inauguration

Photo courtesy of Jared Shapiro, NJ-1DMAT

Montclair State University Health Center Director Donna Barry (kneeling, 4th from right) poses with members of the NJ-1DMAT in the field hospital in Washington DC.

As people around the nation watched the Presidential Inauguration on television on January 20, Donna Barry, Director of the Montclair State University Health Center was watching too—from her station in a field hospital just four blocks from the Capitol building. A member of the New Jersey Disaster Medical Assistance Team (NJ-1DMAT), Barry had been deployed with her team to Washington DC to provide onsite medical care to those who were attending the inauguration.

NJ-1DMAT is part of the National Disaster Medical System under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and its purpose is to provide medical services during state or national disaster incidents as well as at large scale events such as the inauguration. Its primary responsibility is the state of New Jersey but being under federal jurisdiction, it can be deployed anywhere in the country.

“It’s a multi-disciplinary team comprised of EMTs, RNs, NPs, physicians, surgeons, pharmacists, and psychologists, as well as security, logistics, and communication specialists,” explains Barry. “We travel with all the supplies and equipment needed to set up a medical station without assistance from other resources. In Washington we created a 13-bed, fully staffed and equipped medical facility with the capability to increase that size if needed.”

Barry and her 35 fellow team members spent five days in the capitol setting up the field hospital, attending numerous briefings and preparatory events and providing medical care to inauguration attendees. As a nurse practitioner, Barry cared for a wide variety of medical conditions, especially related to the extremely cold weather. “We had a crush of people right after the Inaugural Address was over,” she recalls, “then again after the parade ended.”

A member of NJ-1DMAT since 2006, Barry is proud to be a part of this elite medical group and to have served at the inauguration. “It was a privilege to be a part of the response efforts for such an historic event and to provide a truly needed service,” she says. “We could only watch the events on TV but a sense of excitement and pride for our country permeated the air wherever we were. We could even sense it in the patients we cared for.”