Respiratory Therapists Deploy with DMATs for Relief Effort

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) are being deployed to Texas from all parts of the United States. The first group from Washington state’s team, WA 1 DMAT, deployed this past Tuesday with a second team going this weekend. More teams are planned for deployment throughout September (and possibly to the end of the year) and the activation of International Medical Surgical Response Teams (IMSuRTs) is also a possibility.

Respiratory therapists are vital personnel on these teams and therapist are part of the deployments. Marty Hoyt, a therapist at UW Medicine-Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, was with the first team on Tuesday, and Melissa Miller, also a therapist at UW Medicine-Harborview Medical Center, will be with the second team this weekend.


A DMAT is a group of professional and para-professional medical personnel (supported by a cadre of logistical and administrative staff) designed to provide medical care during a disaster or other event. The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) recruits personnel for specific vacancies, plans for training opportunities, and coordinates the deployment of the teams.



An IMSuRT is very similar to DMAT. In response to man-made or natural disasters affecting United States citizens, IMSuRT surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, clinical engineering and other staff will provide triage and definitive on-site care. Teams of volunteers undergo extensive training and are issued special passports to be ready to respond within 16 hours for deployment anywhere in the world. Within the U.S., they can supplement or temporarily replace surgical capability when a need arises. Each team is self-sustaining for 72 hours.



Typically, NDMS assets are requested by a state’s department of health to FEMA, which then generates a mission assignment and activates the teams for deployment.


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