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Australian Medical Assistance Teams WA

WA AUSMAT personnel treat a patient in Pakistan

Photo acknowledgement: Australian Defence Force

Introduction

The Western Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT WA) is multidisciplinary team that can deploy to the site of a disaster at short notice, to provide health support for up to two weeks. The team can include 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.

History

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)


Deployment history

AUSMAT WA team members have deployed to a number of incidents including:

Operation Philippines Assist 2013: Six AUSMAT WA personnel deployed as part of a national AUSMAT team to the Philippines, following the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Field equipment

DPMU has comprehensive field equipment that allows the team to be self-sustainable if required during deployments. AUSMAT WA field equipment includes accommodation tentage, power generators, water filtration systems and ablutions.

Medical cache

AUSMAT WA has a modular medical cache which can be customised to meet the needs of the disaster, and enhance local health services.

For further information,  contact us

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