Members of the U.S. Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT) from across the country recently participated in a full-scale exercise sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at TEEX’s Disaster City®. In all, there were more than 200 medical personnel and 50 local volunteers – who played the role of victims – involved in the exercise.
The exercise was designed to evaluate the teams’ ability to set up operations at a port of entry into the United States and provide patient screening, assessment, triage, treatment, isolation and quarantine in response to a suspected pandemic flu event. Another benefit of the exercise was to allow national medical responders to practice under the austere conditions that Disaster City® provides.
HHS chose TEEX to host the exercise because of a long-standing relationship between TEEX’s Urban Search & Rescue division and TEEX-sponsored Texas Task Force 1 and the National Disaster Medical System, said US&R Division Director Bob McKee. TX-TF1 has responded to several major disasters with DMAT teams, and members of the teams have joined TX-TF1 in the Operational Readiness Exercises at Disaster City® in the past, he added.
The DMAT managers selected Disaster City® not only because of its size and scope, but also because of their experience with real-world deployments, said US&R Public Information Officer Brian Smith. TX-TF1 and DMAT teams have worked and responded together for more than 10 years, and this exercise was the culmination of years of discussions to train in Disaster City®, he added. Disaster City® provides the DMAT responders with a chance to train exactly as they would respond, and this summer’s 100-degree days added another level of realism to the exercise.