MA-1 DMAT, National Disaster Medical System,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response/
Office of Preparedness and Emergency Operations (HHS/ASPR/OPEO)MA-1 DMAT Field Hospital, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
January 12- 26, 2010
The Massachusetts-1 (MA-1) Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) is a cadre of professional and paraprofessional medical personnel designed to provide medical care during a disaster or other event. DMATs are designed to be a rapid-response element to supplement local medical care until other Federal or contract resources can be mobilized. DMATs deploy with 35 personnel, including doctors, advanced practice nurses, physician's assistants (PAs), nurses, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and communication specialists. They carry sufficient supplies and equipment to be self-sustaining for a period of 72 hours while providing medical care at a fixed or temporary site.
MA-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) at Port-au-Prince airport.
MA-1 was activated on Wednesday, January 13, 2010, to deploy to the devastated Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. On Sunday, January 17th, MA-1 DMAT had established a field hospital in the courtyard of Quisqueya University alongside members of an International Medical Surgical Response Team (IMSuRT). Over the next seven days, the combined MA-1 and IMSuRT team saw 505 patients, delivered nine babies (including one set of twins), performed 66 surgical procedures, and had one death. MA-1 was demobilized and returned to Boston on January 26th. At this time the Quisqueya Field Hospital is still operating, staffed by another DMAT and IMSuRT team.
View from the Navy SH-60 Seahawk Helicopter
Left to Right: Janet O'Young, MDA, Mike Storey, CRNA,
Bill Maybury, CRNA
I have deployed for several disasters with MA-1, including Hurricane Katrina, and the North Dakota Red River floods. All of these experiences pale in comparison to what I witnessed in Haiti. The devastation was absolute, the injuries horrific. As the days went by, word of our field hospital spread and more patients came to our doors. Each day scores of patients with orthopedic injuries and severe wounds would come for treatment, most often these injuries were over a week old. Babies with dehydration, congenital anomalies, severe respiratory distress, and tetanus were a daily sight. It was not uncommon to have two infants, both less than two months old, next to one another, intubated, awaiting medical evacuation (medivac) to the United States Navy Ship (USNS) Comfort.
|Michael Storey, CRNA, MS, transferring a three-week-old infant from field hospital to helicopter to USNS Comfort. Picture taken inside a U.S. Army FLA (front line ambulance).|
Despite the devastation, the Haitian people were some of the kindest, warmest, and most thankful people I have ever encountered. It was eye opening to see an impoverished person whose few possessions were just stolen from them by Mother Earth, helping to teach a new mother to nurse. Complete strangers tending to each other’s needs, calming a fresh postop patient, or sharing what little food and water one had with a fellow Haitian.
The relief effort in Haiti is composed of over 30 nations and hundreds of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These various countries and organizations are supplying technical expertise, food, shelter, medical aid, logistical support, and security. It truly is an international effort. But it is important to remember that this response effort is not just about international aid; it is also about Haitians helping Haitians, and neighbors helping neighbors.
Michael P. Storey, CRNA, MS
National Disaster Medical System
HHS/ASPR/OPEO (US Department of Health and Human Services/Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response/Office of Preparedness and Emergency Operations)