This would likely have resulted in a long delay in raising suitable support to those health care professionals already at the disaster site.
Duties of the DMAT
The initial duties of the DMAT were to assist the nursing team at Charlotte Regional Medical Centre as most nurses there had been on duty for around 40 hours. This was due to the problems which relief staff had in getting to the facility and also the problems which had been caused at the hospital due to the power failures and the structural damage that had been inflicted on the hospital (Cohen and Mulvaney). This initial aid that the DMAT provided was invaluable, as if they had not been so well prepared and arrived so early there would have been far greater pressure on the staff at the hospital, which would have greatly reduced the quality of care which the patients received.
By 6.30am the DMAT had established a triage centre outside the hospital, where patients were assigned to either an acute care tent or a critical care tent. This allowed the ER at the medical centre to close for repairs to the structure which were making it a dangerous working environment at that time. Overall, on the first day, 26 patients were transferred by the DMAT from the Charlotte Regional Medical Centre to facilities outside of Charlotte County where they could receive appropriate care. This included the transport of 2 critically ill patients to other hospitals (Cohen and Mulvaney).
South FL DMAT-5 constructed their own functional hospital in the form of tents and tarpaulins, which was powered by generators from their own equipment supplies. The hospital was fully equipped with emergency medical equipment such as defibrillators and ventilators, again from the DMAT's own supplies. The qualifications of the staff involved in the DMAT also ensured that they were equipped to deal with emergency surgery which may arise without the need for outside expertise. The DMAT's stores also allowed a fully functional and stocked pharmacy to be set up at the site, staffed by pharmacists who were members of the DMAT. The pharmacy also served as a point at which radiographs, ultrasound and laboratory testing could be performed (Young). The ability of the DMAT to be able to construct their own independent hospital was crucial to the care which critically ill patients received at the disaster site. If the DMAT had not been available, the damage which was caused to the hospital by the hurricane meant that it would have been unlikely that the hospital would have been able to continue to deliver quality treatment to those who were critically ill. This may have resulted in larger numbers of fatalities, as both distance and the storms would have prevented critically ill patients from being able to access health care outside of the disaster zone. The use of their own equipment also ensured that they did not create extra pressure on the permanent healthcare facility by forcing spreading of resources.
Overall South FL DMAT-5 remained at the disaster site for 11 days. During this time they treated 1016 patients, which were a mixture of medical problems arising from the conditions associated with the hurricane, or trauma caused directly by the hurricane. Many of the trauma patients' problems were also associated with delays in seeking care which had arisen from incapacitation due to the hurricane. The majority of the patients which were seen were discharged with advice to return for follow-up care at a later stage. Patients presenting with acute problems were stabilized in the field hospital and transferred to appropriate facilities.
The South FL DMAT-5 was also involved in the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which saw the participation of many DMATs from across the country. The DMATs which attended the scene at Hurricane Katrina treated more than 10,000 people. South Fl DMAT-5 provided a triage centre and emergency treatment outside the Crosby Memorial Medical Centre which suffered damage from Katrina which made it inoperable. In particular the pharmacists which came as part of the various DMATs were identified as playing key roles in the aid process (Young).
Disaster Management Assistance Teams such as the South Florida DMAT FL-5 are invaluable in providing medical assistance at the site of various types of disaster. The deployment of a DMAT to the scene ensures that there is a speedy source of relief provided to the local healthcare facilities within the area. This is often particularly important when dealing with natural disasters, as it is likely that the medical facilities in the area will sustain significant damage from these disasters. The South Florida DMAT FL-5 is particularly successful in disaster response due to the ability to construct and operate a fully functional hospital in the form of tents and tarpaulins. They are able to fully staff this facility and have resources and expertise available to deal with critical injuries. This is important as it ensures that the resources of the local facilities are not stretched. It also ensures that the large numbers of casualties which would likely be involved with the disaster receive higher quality of care than would be possible if the local medical facilities were forced to deal with these increased patient numbers alone.
Cohen, Sharon S. And Karen Mulvaney. "Field observations: Disaster Medical Assistance Team response for Hurricane Charley, Punta Gorda, Florida, August 2004." Disaster Management and Response 3.1 (2005): 22-27.
Mace, Sharon E., Jaszmine T. Jones and Andrew I. Bern. "An analysis of Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) deployments in the United States." Prehospital Emergency Care 11 (2007): 30-35.
McEntire, David a. Disaster Response and Recovery: Strategies and Tactics for Resilience. Indianapolis: Wiley, 2007.…