Role of Disaster Medical Assistance Teams in American Samoa

A DMAT team is a Disaster Medical Assistance Team. It is a 35-person team; physicians, nurses, paramedics and other medical professionals that are volunteers. When they volunteer and are activated they are temporary federal employees, intermittent, they call them, and they go out to emergencies and disasters and respond to support and in some cases replace the medical care, medical infrastructure for places, for jurisdictions that are impacted by an event, in this case it’s a tsunami. Clinics were washed out, power was down and the population in these affected areas had no ability to get back to the clinics and hospitals are functionting. We’ve got one full DMAT team, that’s Oregon-2 and it’s commander is Helen Miller and we have an augmented strike team from Hawaii DMAT and it’s commanded by Toby Clairmont. Toby has been in the Pacific a long time, he’s very familiar with the people in the operation here and being in Hawaii he was one of the first out the door to come down and support this need. At this point patient contacts in all areas, that’s including EMS, the emergency medical system to transport patients in ambulances, the public health system because we’re working in some of the community health clinics and LBJ memorial hospital which is a full-service hospital, the only one in the area, we’ve seen just over 200 patient contacts, that’s triage, treatment, transport, the whole thing in the last 36 hours.

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