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A number of multiple-casualty incidents during 2014 and 2015 brought changes to Korea’s disaster medical assistance system. We report these changes here.
Reports about these incidents, revisions to laws, and the government’s revised medical disaster response guidelines were reviewed.
The number of DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) staff members was reduced to 4 from 8, and the mobilization method changed. An emergency response manual was created that contains the main content of the DMAT, and there is now a DMAT training program to educate staff. The government created and launched a national 24-hour Disaster Emergency Medical Service Situation Room, and instead of the traditional wireless communications, mobile instant smart phone messaging has been added as a new means of communication. The number of disaster base hospitals has also been doubled.
Although there are still limitations that need to be remedied, the changes to the current emergency medical assistance system are expected to improve the system’s response capacity. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:526–530)
Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that a catastrophic event in the continental United States (US) can overwhelm domestic medical response capabilities. The recent focus on response planning for a catastrophic earthquake in the New Madrid Seismic Zone and the detonation of an improvised nuclear device also underscore the need for improved plans. The purpose of this analysis is to identify the potential role of foreign medical teams (FMTs) in providing medical response to a catastrophic event in the US. We reviewed existing policies and frameworks that address medical response to catastrophic events and humanitarian emergencies and assess current response capabilities by a variety of FMTs. While several policies and plans outline the role of the US in providing medical assistance during foreign disasters, further planning is necessary to identify how the US will integrate foreign medical assistance during a domestic catastrophic event. We provide an overview of considerations related to federal roles and responsibilities for managing and integrating FMTs into the overarching domestic medical response to a catastrophic disaster occurring in the continental US. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;7:555-562)
It is likely that calls for disaster medical assistance teams (DMATs) will continue in response to international disasters.
As part of a national survey, the present study was designed to evaluate leadership issues and use of standards in Australian DMATs.
Data was collected via an anonymous mailed survey distributed via State and Territory representatives on the Australian Health Protection Committee, who identified team members associated with Australian DMAT deployments from the 2004 Asian Tsunami disaster.
The response rate for this survey was estimated to be approximately 50% (59/118). Most of the personnel had deployed to the Asian Tsunami affected areas. The DMAT members were quite experienced, with 53% (31/59) of personnel in the 45-55 years of age group. Seventy-five percent (44/59) of the respondents were male. Fifty-eight percent (34/59) of the survey participants had significant experience in international disasters, although few felt they had previous experience in disaster management (5%, 3/59). There was unanimous support for a clear command structure (100%, 59/59), with strong support for leadership training for DMAT commanders (85%, 50/59). However only 34% (20/59) felt that their roles were clearly defined pre-deployment, and 59% (35/59) felt that team members could be identified easily. Leadership was identified by two team members as one of the biggest personal hardships faced during their deployment. While no respondents disagreed with the need for meaningful, evidence-based standards to be developed, only 51% (30/59) stated that indicators of effectiveness were used for the deployment.
In this study of Australian DMAT members, there was unanimous support for a clear command structure in future deployments, with clearly defined team roles and reporting structures. This should be supported by clear identification of team leaders to assist inter-agency coordination, and by leadership training for DMAT commanders. Members of Australian DMATs would also support the development and implementation of meaningful, evidence-based standards. More work is needed to identify or develop actual standards and the measures of effectiveness to be used, as well as the contents and nature of leadership training.
Aitken P, Leggat PA, Robertson AG, Harley H, Speare R, Leclercq MG. Leadership and use of standards by Australian disaster medical assistance teams: results of a national survey of team members. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(2):1-6.