Human resources issues and Australian Disaster Medical Assistance Teams: results of a national survey of team members

Emerging Health Threats Journal

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Title Human resources issues and Australian Disaster Medical Assistance Teams: results of a national survey of team members
 
Creator Aitken, Peter; 1Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia 2Emergency Department, The Townsville Hospital, Townsville, QLD, Australia
Leggat, Peter; 1Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia 3School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Harley, Hazel; Consultant, Perth, Western Australia, Australia, and Formerly Public Health Division, Department of Health, Perth, WA, Australia
Speare, Richard; 1Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia
Leclercq, Muriel; 1Anton Breinl Centre for Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia 5Public Health Division, Department of Health, Perth, WA, Australia
 
Subject Public health; Disaster Medicine
Disaster; medical assistance; Australia; Southeast Asia; human resources; indemnity; deployment conditions; Disaster medical assistance teams
RA645.5-645.9
 
Description Background: Calls for disaster medical assistance teams (DMATs) are likely to continue in response to international disasters. As part of a national survey, this study was designed to evaluate Australian DMAT experience in relation to the human resources issues associated with deployment. Methods: Data was collected via an anonymous mailed survey distributed via State and Territory representatives on the Australian Health Protection Committee, who identified team members associated with Australian DMAT deployments from the 2004 South East Asian Tsunami disaster. Results: The response rate for this survey was 50% (59/118). Most personnel had deployed to the Asian Tsunami affected areas with DMAT members having significant clinical and international experience. While all except one respondent stated they received a full orientation prior to deployment, only 34% of respondents (20/59) felt their role was clearly defined pre deployment. Approximately 56% (33/59) felt their actual role matched their intended role and that their clinical background was well suited to their tasks. Most respondents were prepared to be available for deployment for 1 month (34%, 20/59). The most common period of notice needed to deploy was 612 hours for 29% (17/59) followed by 1224 hours for 24% (14/59). The preferred period of overseas deployment was 1421 days (46%, 27/59) followed by 1 month (25%, 15/59) and the optimum shift period was felt to be 12 hours by 66% (39/59). The majority felt that there was both adequate pay (71%, 42/59) and adequate indemnity (66%, 39/59). Almost half (49%, 29/59) stated it was better to work with people from the same hospital and, while most felt their deployment could be easily covered by staff from their workplace (56%, 33/59) and caused an inconvenience to their colleagues (51%, 30/59), it was less likely to interrupt service delivery in their workplace (10%, 6/59) or cause an inconvenience to patients (9%, 5/59). Deployment was felt to benefit the affected community by nearly all (95%, 56/59) while less (42%, 25/59) felt that there was a benefit for their own local community. Nearly all felt their role was recognised on return (93%, 55/59) and an identical number (93%, 55/59) enjoyed the experience. All stated they would volunteer again, with 88% strongly agreeing with this statement. Conclusions: This study of Australian DMAT members provides significant insights into a number of human resources issues and should help guide future deployments. The preferred ‘on call’ arrangements, notice to deploy, period of overseas deployment and shift length are all identified. This extended period of operations needs to be supported by planning and provision of rest cycles, food, temporary accommodation and rest areas for staff. The study also suggests that more emphasis should be placed on team selection and clarification of roles.While the majority felt that there was both adequate pay and adequate indemnity, further work clarifying this, based on national conditions of service should be, and are, being explored currently by the state based teams in Australia. Importantly, the deployment was viewed positively by team members who all stated they would volunteer again, which allows the development of an experienced cohort of team members.Keywords: disaster; medical assistance; Australia; Southeast Asia; human resources; indemnity; deployment conditions; disaster medical assistance teams(Published: 31 May 2012)Citation: Emerg Health Threats J 2012, 5: 18147 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/ehtj.v5i0.18147
 
Publisher Emerging Health Threats Journal
 
Contributor Department of Health and Ageing, Commonwealth of Australia
 
Date 2012-05-31
 
Type info:eu-repo/semantics/article
info:eu-repo/semantics/publishedVersion

Survey
 
Format application/pdf
text/html
application/epub+zip
text/xml
 
Identifier http://journals.co-action.net/index.php/ehtj/article/view/18147
10.3402/ehtj.v5i0.18147
 
Source Emerging Health Threats Journal; Vol 5 (2012) incl Supplements
1752-8550
1752-8550
 
Language eng
 
Relation http://journals.co-action.net/index.php/ehtj/article/view/18147/22584
http://journals.co-action.net/index.php/ehtj/article/view/18147/22587
http://journals.co-action.net/index.php/ehtj/article/view/18147/22589
http://journals.co-action.net/index.php/ehtj/article/view/18147/22590
 
Coverage Asia-Pacific
Post Asian Tsunami
Age, gender, preparedness, volunteerism
 

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