Members of the National Disaster Medical Assistance Team recently landed on the ground to help overburdened departments of the Upstate University Hospital.

Timothy Tackett, disaster medical assistance team commander, said it took the 31-person team only 36 hours to seamlessly blend into the hospital's team.

“I don’t know if we’ve been any place where we've had more support from the hospital administration down to the housekeeping staff,” said Tackett, who has worked in the field since 1988.

He called it a passion.

Just last week, the team was in Portland, Maine, at a similar sized hospital to help with emergency-room staffing.

“I’ve deployed more in the last two years than I have in the last 30 years,” Tackett said.

He said the team of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medically trained staff is helping to significantly decrease emergency room wait times.

“It looks like we’re going to be leaving after the peak is over and headed downhill,” Tackett said.

He continued, “So if you come to the emergency room right now as opposed to, let’s say two years ago, less staff, less staff to keep beds open. If you need to be admitted to the hospital, we have less beds to keep you in and you end up staying in the emergency room a lot longer.”

The team will continue its work with the hospital through Jan. 14.

Hospital staff is hopeful the winter surge will be over by that point and they will be able to sustain shorter wait times.