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Mentions: Two days after the disaster (28 December 2004), the Seoul National University Hospital began to organize the deployment of a disaster medical assistance team (DMAT) to Sri Lanka. The team has had the regular disaster drills in monthly basis since March 2004. The Korean DMAT was composed of 20 personnel: three emergency physicians, two surgeons (one general and one orthopedic surgeon), a physician, a pediatrician, a dermatologist, three general physicians, three nurses, two emergency medical technicians (EMTs), a pharmacist, and three support personnel. The DMAT carried the medications for resuscitation, antibiotics, antimalarial drugs, fluids for intravenous infusion, and surgical kits (general and orthopedic). Other medications, preventive medicine like tetanus toxoid, and medicines for chronic disease (hypertension, diabetes, asthma, etc.) were also taken. Two big tents (15 meter in length, 7 meter in width, and 2.5 meter in height) which can be automatically inflated within 10 min by the infusion of the air (Fig. 1), two electric generators, self-sufficient amount of foods, and potable water for at least 10 days were also prepared. On 29 December 2004, the DMAT departed for Sri Lanka and began to provide medical cares seven days after the disaster (2 January 2005). The Korean DMAT performed a total of 7 days of medical cares in 6 towns, from 2 to 8 January 2005. The names of towns were Weligama, Mirissa (town between Weligama and Matara), Matara, Thalalla (town near Dondra), Hambantota, and Dikwella, by the order of the date (Fig. 2). All towns but Hambantota were the parts of the Matara district. In the Matara district, there were more injured persons than the dead (8,288 vs. 1,158). In contrast, injured victims (estimated as about 500 people) were much less than the dead in Hambantota, where about half of the total residents (about 4,500) were killed immediately after the tsunami (5).
Experience of a Korean Disaster Medical Assistance Team in Sri Lanka after the South Asia Tsunami
Bottom Line: The majority of victims had medical problems (82.4%) rather than injuries (17.6%), and most conditions (92.1%) were mild enough to be discharged after simple management.There were also substantial needs of surgical managements even in the second week following the tsunami.Our study also suggests that effective triage system, self-sufficient preparedness, and close collaboration with local authorities may be the critical points for the foreign DMAT activity.
Affiliation: Department of Emergency Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
On 26 December 2004, a huge tsunami struck the coasts of South Asian countries and it resulted in 29,729 deaths and 16,665 injuries in Sri Lanka. This study characterizes the epidemiology, clinical data and time course of the medical problems seen by a Korean disaster medical assistance team (DMAT) during its deployment in Sri Lanka, from 2 to 8 January 2005. The team consisting of 20 surgical and medical personnel began to provide care 7 days after tsunami in the southern part of Sri Lanka, the Matara and Hambantota districts. During this period, a total of 2,807 patients visited our field clinics with 3,186 chief complaints. Using the triage and refer system, we performed 3,231 clinical examinations and made 3,259 diagnoses. The majority of victims had medical problems (82.4%) rather than injuries (17.6%), and most conditions (92.1%) were mild enough to be discharged after simple management. There were also substantial needs of surgical managements even in the second week following the tsunami. Our study also suggests that effective triage system, self-sufficient preparedness, and close collaboration with local authorities may be the critical points for the foreign DMAT activity.
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