ATACC DRT is not intended as a free standing resource, but rather a structure through which all members of ATACC and indeed any NHS or emergency service employee can both develop skills, whilst at the same time impart with their unique expertise and knowledge to other organisations in both disaster preparation and response. The DRT, although in its infancy, has already forged many strong links around the world, training and working with many international humanitarian and disaster response organisations through verious International Development Projects.
As an NGO, ATACC is registered with the United Nations as a source of medical rescue and critical care assessment expertise. The medical team is composed of a range of professionals from anaesthesia, critical care and various surgical specialties together with a host of allied health care professionals. Supporting this response is our vital core of rescue and logistics experts, ranging from fire fighters and engineers to specialist military personnel and search dog handlers. Team managers are trained in practical disaster response coordination and liaison. As such a component is available to the UN and WHO to assist with assessing and managing medical and critical care needs during a disaster.
The team was launched in 2004, post Tsunami, in collaboration with North Cheshire Hospital NHS Trust and supported the Hellenic Rescue Team in its deployment to Indonesia. ATACC were the only British Medical team in the region. The Primary mission was to set up a New Emergency Health Kit (NEHK). This is a modular field hospital, developed by WHO in consultation with MSF and IDA. The NEHK contained medicines and medical supplies in quantities sufficient for a population of 10.000 people for approximately 3 months. 3 members of the team initially deployed. 1 Engineer and 2 ODPs, who were tasked to make a detailed surgical assessment of the area and ensure logistics were in place for any further deployment.
Behind them was the support of a fully equipped, mobile and completely self sufficient surgical team. Although the surgical team were not needed, the DRT performed a number of important tasks, including making detailed surgical needs assessments on behalf of the United Nations and repairing the anaesthetic and A&E department at Banda Aceh’s main government hospital. ATACC DRT later donated all their theatre equipment and supplies to the hospital, a mammoth logistical undertaking in itself. On the background of this, the team has developed considerably, recently supporting various responses to the Pakistan Earthquake.
Closer to home, the lessons learnt during the Tsunami were put into practice when members of the team managed the biggest critical care evacuation in UK history, following a fire in Warrington Hospital. The incident was managed by one of ATACC’s experienced Medical Incident Officers, who was able to utilise DRT resources such as portable ventilators, monitors, syringe drivers, personnel, vehicles, communications networks and transport equipment.
ATACC maintain an entirely self sufficient, trauma and critical care needs assessment team. The team is rapidly deployable to disasters anywhere in the world. Through this structure we are able to accurately provide a detailed analysis of need, the type of information that specialist teams rely on to plan their response to a disaster. We aim to address the emotive, sensationalised information that often prevents useful aid reaching the people that really need it through working in close colaberation with the UN and WHO.
Dr. Jason van der Velde
ATACC DRT Coordinator and UN Liaison Officer