Health Workforce Innovations in Response to the COVID Pandemic
Disaster medical response - DMAT and MRC
In addition to immediate loss of life and injuries caused by a disaster—natural or man-made (eg, war, terrorism}—mass disruption of the local infrastructure and relocation of a large segment of the population pose ongoing threats to health.
Volunteers are more effective when they are part of an organized response and are trained in disaster medicine and public health.
Medical Reserve Corps :
The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a program started by the federal government after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It is part of the Citizen Corps, which is one component of the USA Freedom Corps (www.usafreedomcorps.gov). The
purpose of the MRC is to organize local groups of medical and public health professionals to prepare for and respond to local and national emergency needs. Physicians interested in joining a local MRC can check on the MRC home page
www.medicaireservecorps.gov) to see if one has been organized their area.
Disaster Medical Assistance Teams :
Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) are part of the National Disaster Medical System, under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security. The role of these teams is to provide medical care in a disaster area.As stated in DMAT promotional material, "DMATs deploy to disaster sites with sufficient supplies and equipment to sustain themselves for a period of 72 hours while providing medical care at a fixed or temporary medical care site." In incidents with large numbers of casualties, DMATs responsibilities include "triaging patients, providing high-quality medical care despite the adverse and austere environment often found at a disaster site, and preparing patients for evacuation."
DMATs may also provide primary medical care or may augment overloaded local health care staffs. DMATs are organized by a local sponsor—a medical center, local public health agency, or a nonprofit organization. The responsibilities of the sponsor
include recruiting DMAT team members, training, and organizing the dispatch of team members if called upon. Members of DMATs become temporary federal employees when deployed; this provides them liability protection through the Federal Tort Claims Act. In addition, professional licenses of federal employees are recognized by states, freeing DMAT team members from state licensing concerns.The NDMS has 10 regional offices (detailed at www.oep-ndms.dhhs.gov/region_l.html)
where information can be found about existing DMAT teams and how to form a team. The DMAT home page is www.oep-ndms.dhhs.gov/dmat.html.
Solidarity staffing (eg deployments to/from other jurisdictions)
Physicians - Emergency
Public Health Workers
This article explains the innovation that organized response teams can bring during disasters in the US.
Emergency Medical Services
Members of DMATs become temporary federal employees when deployed; this provides them liability protection through the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Campos-Outcalt, D. (2006). Disaster medical response: maximizing your effectiveness. The Journal of Family Practice, 55(2), 113