Disaster Medical Assistance Team
A DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) is a team of intermittent federal employees organized under the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to provide emergency medical care and to augment local medical capabilities during times of disaster. Disasters may be earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics, explosions, floods, or other devastating events. DMATs are typically composed of 100 - 150 medical professionals and support staff organized, trained and prepared to activate. In the event of a disaster, a team of about 35-50 will deploy as a unit to provide medical and health care to disaster victims.
A DMAT provides essential medical care at the disaster site, triages and treats victims at casualty collection points, and provides medical care at staging and reception sites. DMATs have responded to hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, heat waves and terrorist attacks. They also pre-stage for large public events such as the Olympics.
Typical DMAT Missions
DMATs are designed to be a rapid-response element to supplement local healthcare infrastructure for short periods until they can get back on their feet or more long-term resources can be mobilized.
DMATs deploy to disaster sites with sufficient supplies and equipment to sustain themselves for a period of 72 hours while providing medical care at a fixed or temporary medical care site. In mass casualty incidents, their responsibilities include triaging patients, providing austere medical care, and preparing patients for airlift or other evacuation. (Please read About NDMS for more on this.)
In other types of situations, DMATs may provide primary health care and/or may serve to augment overloaded local health care staffs. Under the rare circumstance that disaster victims are evacuated to a different locale to receive definitive medical care, DMATs may be activated to support patient reception and disposition of patients to hospitals.
DMAT personnel consist of physicians, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, and administrative and logistic support personnel. In addition, there is a home-based staff of planners, recruiters, instructors, administrators and other support personnel.
DMAT personnel are required to maintain appropriate licensure within their discipline. When they deployed, state-issued licensure is valid anywhere. Additionally, DMAT personnel are permanent intermittent federal employees, so they are paid when activated, have the protection of the Federal Tort Claims Act in which the Federal Government becomes the defendant in the event of a malpractice claim, and also have the protection of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) which provides employment protection for personnel who are deployed on a mission or for training. Additional USERRA information for employers and employees is available at the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve.
Unlike the members of the US armed forces, NDMS personnel are permanent federal employees (no set term of service) who can individually choose whether or not to deploy for any specific mission. Missions are usually up to 2 weeks in duration (3 weeks for international missions).