Following the Bali bombing in 2002 and the South East Asian tsunami in 2004, recommendations were made to develop civilian medical team capabilities within Australia to respond to incidents within the State, Australia or overseas.
The Western Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT WA) is a multidisciplinary team that deploys to the site of a disaster at short notice, to provide health support. The team can be self-sufficient for up to 2 weeks and can provide its own shelter, power, food, water, medical supplies and communications.
A comprehensive cache of self-sustainability equipment and Disaster Medical Supplies Lists (DMSL) are used during deployments.
AUSMAT WA volunteer team structure
Depending on the requirements of the deployment, an AUSMAT WA team may potentially include the following volunteers:
- Surgeons – general, trauma, orthopaedic, burns and plastics, paediatric
- Physicians – emergency, ICU, public health, infectious diseases, internal medicine
- General practitioners
- Public health
- Infection control
- Logistics officers
- Environmental health officers
Boxing Day Tsunami 2004
WA deployed a 12-person medical team to contribute to the Australian civilian medical teams’ response. WA staff were deployed to Banda Aceh in Indonesia and the Maldives.
Yogyakarta Earthquake 2006
WA deployed a 12-person medical team for 14 days to Yogyakarta, Indonesia to assist following a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The earthquake resulted in 5,782 deaths and 36,299 injured.
Tropical Cyclone George 2007
This category 5 cyclone crossed the coast 50km north-west of Port Hedland. Although the cyclone caused minimal damage in Port Hedland, it resulted in 3 deaths and 15 casualties in the region, of which 6 were critical and all of which were evacuated to Perth. A medical team from Perth deployed to Port Hedland to support local health staff.
Ashmore Reef Explosion 2009
An explosion on board a Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel resulted in 5 deaths and 44 injured (31 seriously). WA Health coordinated the medical response once the casualties had reached Western Australian soil, and provided medical teams to assist in the response.
Pakistan Floods 2010
Staff were part of a 27-member AUSMAT team deployed with the Commonwealth’s AusAID program to help with relief efforts after the worst flooding in Pakistan’s history.
Northern Territory 2013
Staff recently volunteered with a team of health professionals who travelled to Maningrida in the Northern Territory to treat trachoma. The aim was to visit households within the remote community, administer the appropriate dose of azithromycin to those affected by trachoma, and educate people about the importance of maintaining hygiene and clean faces.
Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines 2013
Six AUSMAT WA volunteers deployed with a national AUSMAT team to provide health support to the local response following the devastating typhoon in November 2013.
AUSMAT WA positions are very limited. To receive information for upcoming positions, please send us an email.
The AUSMAT experience isn’t for everyone. Living conditions on deployment can be very challenging, especially on overseas deployments. Read more about the conditions and challenges to decide if volunteering with AUSMAT is for you.
For more information on the AUSMAT please send us an email.
Disaster Preparedness and Management Unit