Training for Emergency Medical Teams and European Medical Corps (TEAMS) Project
As the second step of the project TEAMS (Training for Emergency Medical Teams and European Medical Corps) funded by the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) thanks to the collaboration between the Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIM) and World Health Organization (WHO), TEAMS 2.0 Training for Trainers field application was held in Turkish Red Crescent Society’s Marmara Regional Disaster Operation Center (MAFOM) on 22-25 October 2019.
Our project partners, Universita Del Piemonte Orientale, Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIM, Italy), University of Manchester (UK), Karolinska Institutet (Switzerland), Tel Aviv University (Israel), Humedica (Germany), and Novareckon (Italy) sent their representatives to observe the field work.
Also, other observers joined the event from the Emergency Health Unit of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Doctors without Borders (MSF) who took an interest in our efforts.
Prior to the field work, three of our trainers including Prof. Dr. Orhan Alimoğlu had received a four-day training course in Novara, Italy in June. Furthermore, upon the invitation of project coordinator Asst. Prof. Kurtuluş Açıksarı, Prof. Dr. Şeyhmus Kerem Özel, Assoc. Prof. Ebuzer Aydın, Assoc. Prof. Vahdettin Görmez, and Asst. Prof. Ömer Turan of IMU Faculty of Medicine, our students of specialty in medicine Dr. Nuray Çolapkulu and Dr. Damla Beyazadam, Nurses in IMU Göztepe Training and Research Hospital Eren Altuntaş and Rukiye Bahar, and Res. Asst. Özlem Akarsu of the Nursing Department of our Faculty of Health Sciences also served in the Emergency Medical Team.
Our project mainly aims to develop and implement a standardized, validated and cost-effective training package for Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) to conduct field work in disasters. EMTs are teams consisting of individuals whose quality and competencies have been approved by World Health Organization and who aim to reduce loss of lives, prevent impairments in humans, and access affected regions swiftly during rapid-onset disasters and epidemics. The primary objective of these teams is to protect human health and dignity while they engage in life-saving operations. The quality of their training should be assessed through their professional competence certificates obtained from universities, the responsibilities they assume as team members, their teamwork skills, and thus their entire team performance in the field.
For the purposes of the field application, an EMT was specially created with 29 individuals who had not worked together before. The team brought together professionals from different fields of expertise such as university professors, field force employed by the Ministry of Health in hospitals and emergency medical health services, emergency and disaster managers, and communication and logistics specialist (3 emergency medicine specialists, 1 thoracic surgeon, 1 pediatric surgeon, 1 cardiovascular surgeon, 1 specialist in obstetrics and gynecology, 1 general surgeon, 1 forensic scientist, 2 general surgery assistants, 1 emergency medical assistant, 4 paramedics, 7 nurses, 2 emergency medical technicians, 1 communication specialist, and 3 specialists in disaster response and logistics).
In our project supported by the Turkish Red Crescent, students of Istanbul Medeniyet University Medicine Faculty, interns, and emergency medical assistants served at every step of the event and even acted as role models as required by certain scenarios. We could easily overcome all the problems we were faced in the field thanks to the support of our University administration and harmonious coordination among our students.
The initial field trainings for our project were followed by the three-day desktop and field simulation exercises on various subjects including preparations before disaster response, arrival and setup at the disaster site, identifying priorities, management of operational information network, management of mass events, the ability to adapt to the conditions and culture of the region, planning and preparing for evacuation, and safety. Particularly for the scenario on ‘management of mass events’, our interns received preliminary training on how to use dynamic triage tags and then, make-up was applied to them for their particular roles and they successfully acted as patients on the site. In this particular scenario, volunteers from the villages around the MAFOM center also lent support by acting as patients.
The project’s goal is to enhance the team performance of EMTs responding to disasters, rather than assessing the professional performance of field teams. In our training pack, the materials and methods developed allows interactive assessment for all participators and team building process among health care workers who do not know one another was observed at every step. The collected data will be published in scientific studies.