Quality assurance mechanisms for Emergency Medical Teams

Case Study Submitted by: Bronte Martin, World Health Organization
Country: All

Disasters and disease outbreaks can occur at any given moment and in any place in the world, often wreaking havoc and seriously disrupting and threatening lives in communities. In order to reduce the avoidable loss of life and the burden of disease and disability, coordination is key.  Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) are an important part of the global health workforce.  Any nurse, doctor or paramedic team coming from another country to practice health care in an emergency needs to come as a member of a team, which must have training, quality, equipment and supplies so it can respond with success rather than impose a burden on the national system.

 The WHO EMTs Initiative was launched in 2016 to assist organisations and member states to build capacity and strengthen health systems by coordinating the deployment of quality assured medical teams in emergencies.  When a disaster strikes or an outbreak flares, the more rapid the response, the better the outcome.  To date, 22 teams have been classified with an additional 70 teams in progress, working towards classification.

The Global EMT Initiative enables countries to improve their own national capacity, which they are then able to use to assist other countries in emergencies. Host governments and affected populations can depend on EMTs to arrive trained, equipped and capable of providing the intervention promised. The EMTs Initiative facilitates and coordinates the placement of each team, with its unique individuals with various skills sets.  Victims and their families are assured that the clinical teams treating them are of a safe minimum standard.

With 22 years’ experience as a registered nurse and 17 years in the Royal Australian Air Force Specialist Reserve, Bronte Martin has witnessed first-hand the destruction and devastation a sudden-onset disasters, outbreaks and other emergencies can have on a patient, their family and communities.  With her experience, knowledge and skills to respond to the needs of a community, Bronte was engaged by the WHO  EMTs Secretariat where she undertook a six-month secondment to develop and establish the Global Classification, Mentorship and Verification programme; ensuring validated, quality international emergency medical care is delivered in response to Sudden Onset Disasters. Bronte is passionate about nursing and the leading role nurses play in the development of improved quality health outcomes.  She believes that nurses are the core and frontline of the collective medical workforce, playing a critical role in contributing to national, regional and global emergency health response capacities.

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