Iowa has five DMATs (Disaster Medical Assistance Teams) across the state, including one out Sioux City. Four Cherokee Regional Medical Center employees are members of the DMAT out of Sioux City, and two of those employees were recently deployed to assist with the flood relief efforts in eastern Iowa.
The teams are groups of professional and para-professional medical personnel who provide medical care during a disaster or other event. DMATs are designed to be a rapid-response element to supplement local medical care until other Federal or contract resources can be mobilized, or the situation resolved.
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. The Sioux City DMAT is made up of nurses, pharmacists, paramedics, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists and physicians.
CRMC staff members Julie Dolphin (Registered Nurse & Paramedic) and Presley Johnston (Pharmacist) were initially sent to Waterloo for a day and then were sent to Cedar Rapids for an additional two days.
In Waterloo, DMAT spent 13 hours setting up a mobile health care facility on the parking lot of Covenant Hospital. This facility can hold up to 50 patients and consists of a series of tents that interlock, providing a triage area, a treatment area and several long-term patient care areas. The tent system has a plumbing system with hot and cold water, sinks, toilets and showers as well as portable generators to provide electricity.
On the way home from Waterloo, the team received a call that Cedar Rapids was evacuating Mercy Medical Center due to flooding, so they turned around and headed there to assist. When they arrived, some of the team members were stationed at an elementary school, while others were at the high school. There were over 300 people in the shelter at the elementary school. The high school served as a medical treatment center with the Red Cross triaging patients as they came in and then turning them over to DMAT members.
"When it was time to go home, it was very hard to leave all those people," said Julie Dolphin, RN. "It was a phenomenal experience that I will not soon forget. I will be able to use this experience to help our area with disaster management plans, both within CRMC and Cherokee County. You don't know how blessed we are to have a water faucet to drink from, food to eat, showers to use, clean clothes to wear and a house to live in. The patients I cared for didn't have anything left -- they were at the mercy of the items that were donated to the shelter."
"This was the first deployment of a DMAT team since their organization 5 years ago," said Presley Johnston, CRMC Pharmacy Manager. "Each of the 5 teams in Iowa are on primary or secondary call 2 times a year. June happened to be the primary call month for the Sioux City Team."
Chris Rausch, CRMC Respiratory Therapist and Jeremy McClennen, CRMC Paramedic are also members of the Sioux City DMAT team.