JOHNSTON, Iowa — They aren’t meteorologists, medical doctors, or nurses. But nearly two dozen employees of Athena GTX, based in Johnston, have been preparing to protect residents in Hurricane Ian’s path along the Gulf Coast. Their equipment has already arrived in the area and if more is needed, it can usually arrive within 48 hours, President/CEO Mark Darrah says.

“Athena primarily responds to catastrophes and mass casualties. And when hurricanes come in and threaten this country, a lot of our customers buy our products and they can respond to multiple industries simultaneously,” Darrah explains. “We’re connecting up to 20 patients simultaneously and this could be to an i-watch or to a phone.”

The company designed a medical mobility monitoring service that, once hooked up to patients, allows doctors to track a vulnerable person’s vital signs remotely. Darrah compares the digital readout to a stoplight: green means the person is doing well, yellow could signal some uncertainty and red warns of a declining health stage.

“When we can produce a medical monitor that stays with the patient and is small enough to ride with the patient and then connect remotely,” Darrah said.

He expects hospital patients and nursing home residents to get evacuated as Hurricane Ian rages toward Florida. His company’s equipment allows doctors to monitor those people during transport to make sure their health doesn’t decline during the stressful time.

The National Hurricane Center predicts Tampa, Florida could get 10-15 inches of rain from the storm. The airport is closing Tuesday morning. More than 300,000 people in the region may have to evacuate. And schools are closing, so facilities can serve as evacuation centers.

Hurricane Ian could be the worst storm to hit the area in nearly a century.