Emergency medical teams provide urgent medical and surgical care in emergencies characterized by a surge in trauma or disease. Rehabilitation has historically not been included in the acute phase of care, as teams have either not perceived it as their responsibility or have relied on external providers, including local services and international organizations, to provide services. Low- and middle-income countries, which often have limited rehabilitation capacity within their health system, are particularly vulnerable to disaster and are usually ill-equipped to address the increased burden of rehabilitation needs that arise. The resulting unmet needs for rehabilitation culminate in unnecessary complications for patients, delayed recovery, reduced functional outcomes, and often impede return to daily activities and life roles. Recognizing the systemic neglect of rehabilitation in global emergency medical response, the World Health Organization, in collaboration with key operational partners and experts, developed technical standards and recommendations for rehabilitation which are integrated into the WHO verification process for EMTs. This protocol report presents: 1) the rationale for the development of the standards and accompanying recommendations; 2) the methodology of the development process; 3) the minimum standards and other significant content included in the document; 4) challenges encountered during development and implementation; and 5) current and next steps to continue strengthening the inclusion of rehabilitation in emergency medical response.
An increasing number of international emergency medical teams are deployed to assist disaster-affected populations worldwide. Since Haiti earthquake those teams have been criticised for ill adapted care, lack of preparedness in addition to not coordinating with the affected country healthcare system. The Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) initiative, as part of the Word Health Organization’s Global Health Emergency Workforce program, aims to address these shortcomings by improved EMT coordination, and mechanisms to ensure quality and accountability of national and international EMTs. An essential component to reach this goal is appropriate education and training. Multiple disaster education and training programs are available. However, most are centred on individuals’ professional development rather than on the EMTs operational performance. Moreover, no common overarching or standardised training frameworks exist. In this report, an expert panel review and discuss the current approaches to disaster education and training and propose a three-step operational learning framework that could be used for EMTs globally. The proposed framework includes the following steps: 1) ensure professional competence and license to practice, 2) support adaptation of technical and non-technical professional capacities into the low-resource and emergency context and 3) prepare for an effective team performance in the field. A combination of training methodologies is also recommended, including individual theory based education, immersive simulations and team training. Agreed curriculum and open access training materials for EMTs need to be further developed, ideally through collaborative efforts between WHO, operational EMT organizations, universities, professional bodies and training agencies. Keywords: disasters; education; emergencies; global health; learning