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Hawaii medical team returns from New York

Hawaii DMAT Task Force 1 (in blue shirts) at South Nassau Communities Hospital on Long Island, with a medical officer from Colorado 1 and two medics from Florida 3 DMAT. (Photo special to Hawaii 24/7)


Medical teams from Hawaii are back from assisting federal medical relief efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team (Hawaii DMAT) members combined forces with members of Alaska’s DMAT to form three task forces, and joined with DMAT and national guard members from around the country.

Their two-week deployment lasted through Thanksgiving.

Task Force 1, led by HAH Emergency Services Director Toby Clairmont, established a medical surge treatment area adjacent to the hospital Emergency department at South Nassau Communities Hospital.

Team members provided care in the emergency department and in a field treatment facility located in the parking lot. The 200-bed Level II trauma center is in the disaster area very near heavily damaged areas of Long Beach, Coney Island and Rockaways.

Many of the hospitals’ 3,000 staff lost their homes in the storm.

Amy Baker, PharmD, the Adverse Drug Event Project Lead at Mountain Pacific Quality Health, was one of the Hawaii DMAT team members working at the hospital.

“Many DMAT folk from all over the country, pulling together to help those in need,” Baker said. “I’m feel honored to be able to sleep in cots next to such great people, and spend Thanksgiving with them. Every day we gave thanks to be able to do this work.”

Hawaii DMAT Task Force 2, led by Bill Richter, Clinical Operations Manager of HAH Emergency Services, joined with the New York National Guard and DMAT teams from Oregon and Colorado on a “Heat and Wellness” mission.

The NY National Guard went from door to door checking to see if people had heat, water, and food. If they ran across someone with medical needs they called on the DMAT members.

There were up to three teams, each consisting of a doctor or mid-level provider (PA, APRN), nurse, and paramedic. Sometimes other professionals, such as Hawaii DMAT’s pharmacist, Mark Brown were on the teams.

These Heat and Wellness missions covered Coney Island, the Rockaways, Breezy Point, and Staten Island, which were some of the hardest hit areas, and are still ongoing.

Task Force 2 also assumed responsibility for supporting a 120-bed medical shelter at the Brooklyn Armory. Many of the patients were evacuated from nursing homes and required continuous direct care.

HAH Emergency Services deploys emergency response teams (Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team) for casualty care, aeromedical transport, medical surge and incident management.

Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team is a trained corps of medical professionals who respond to calls for medical surge, disaster and humanitarian assistance throughout the U.S. and the Pacific Region.

Currently, Hawaii DMAT has more than 75 members. Hawaii DMAT provides on-scene high acuity casualty care services within two to four hours of request.

Hawaii DMAT is on call for four months of the year for response to the U.S. mainland, and 12 months of the year for Hawaii and the Pacific.

Hawaii DMAT is also known as Kalawao Rescue within the state; a nonfederal configuration of the team that provides enhanced services to the state. Kalawao Rescue is administered by HAH Emergency Services and operates year-round.

HAH Emergency Services, a division of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, provides emergency preparedness and operations management services to more than 115 health care coalition members throughout the state of Hawaii including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home care and hospice, air and ground ambulance, blood banks and clinical laboratories.

HAH Emergency Services is one of three federally recognized health care coalitions (along with Indianapolis and D.C.) that serve as a model for the rest of the nation.

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