It has become clear that disaster relief needs to transition from good intentions or a charity-based approach to a professional, outcome-oriented response. The practice of medicine in disaster and conflict is a profession practiced in environments where lack of resources, chaos, and unpredictability are the norm rather than the exception. With this consideration in mind, the World Health Organization (WHO; Geneva, Switzerland) and its partners set out to improve the disaster response systems. The resulting Emergency Medical Team (EMT) classification system requires that teams planning on engaging in disaster response follow common standards for the delivery of care in resource-constraint environments. In order to clarify these standards, the WHO EMT Secretariat collaborated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC; Geneva, Switzerland) and leading experts from other stakeholder non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to produce a guide to the management of limb injuries in disaster and conflict.
The resulting text is a free and open-access resource to provide guidance for national and international EMTs caring for patients in disasters and conflicts. The content is a result of expert consensus, literature review, and an iterative process designed to encourage debate and resolution of existing open questions within the field of disaster and conflict medical response.
The end result of this process is a text providing guidance to providers seeking to deliver safe, effective care within the EMT framework that is now part of the EMT training and verification system and is being distributed to ICRC teams deploying to the field.
This work seeks to encourage professionalization of the field of disaster and conflict response, and to contribute to the existing EMT framework, in order to provide for better care for future victims of disaster and conflict.