Photo acknowledgement: Australian Defence Force
The Western Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT WA) is a group of medical professionals and paraprofessionals that deploy to the site of a disaster at short notice, to provide medical support for up to two weeks. The team includes physicians, nurses, allied health and paramedics, and non-medical members such as logisticians. The team has the ability to be self-sufficient for up to two weeks and has the capacity to provide its own shelter, power, food, water, medical supplies and communications.
Following the Bali bombing in 2002 and the South East Asian tsunami in 2004, recommendations were made to develop civilian medical team capabilities within Australia to respond to incidents within the State, Australia or Overseas. The Disaster Preparedness and Management Unit (DPMU), Department of Health, Western Australia, received funding from Emergency Management Australia to research Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) and develop a model for use initially in Western Australia.
A modular structure has been developed which covers Response Units (that will be self sustainable), Support Units (that will work in existing infrastructure such as hospitals) and a Support Section that includes logisticians and other expertise required to support the team such as health logisticians, biomedical engineers, pharmacists etc.
Volunteers are screened for suitability and trained appropriately prior to deployments. Once you have been accepted as an AUSMAT member, you will be considered for deployments under AUSMAT WA. For more information refer to the Disaster Medical Assistance Team Research Paper (PDF 1.81MB)
AUSMAT WA team members have deployed to a number of incidents including:
Boxing Day Tsunami 2004: WA deployed a 12 person medical team to contribute to the Australian civilian medical teams’ response. WA staff were deployed to Banda Aceh in Indonesia and the Maldives.
Yogyakarta Earthquake 2006: WA deployed a 12 person civilian medical team for 14 days to Yogyakarta, Indonesia to assist following a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake resulted in 5,782 deaths and 36,299 injured.
Tropical Cyclone George 2007: A category 5 cyclone that crossed the coast 50 km north west of Port Hedland. Although the cyclone caused minimal damage in Port Hedland, it resulted in 3 deaths and 15 casualties in the region, of which 6 were critical and all of which were evacuated to Perth. A medical team from Perth deployed to Port Hedland to support local Health staff.
Ashmore Reef Explosion 2009: An explosion on board a Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel resulted in 5 deaths and 44 injured (31 seriously). WA health coordinated the medical response once the casualties had reached Western Australian soil, and provided medical teams to assist in the response.
Pakistan Floods 2010: Staff were part of a 27-member Australian Medical Assistance Team deployed with the Commonwealth’s AusAID program to help with relief efforts after the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history.
DPMU has a comprehensive cache of self-sustainability equipment and has developed Disaster Medical Supplies Lists (DMSL), to be used during deployments. An AUSMAT WA Committee has been in operation since January 2006 and has assisted in the development of a modular structure which includes a self-sustainable Response Unit, Support Units (that will work in existing infrastructure such as hospitals) and a Support Section that includes logisticians and other expertise required to support the team such as health logisticians, biomedical engineers, and pharmacists.
For further information, contact us