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  • Aussie and Kiwi nurses help in cyclone-ravaged Vanuatu

    Author: Karen Keast

A handful of Australian and New Zealand nurses are being deployed to Vanuatu as part of international disaster response efforts in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Pam.

The Royal Darwin Hospital-based National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) has deployed an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT), comprising three registered nurses and two doctors, to the devastated South Pacific region.

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The rapid assessment team and the initial treatment team (pictured) left Darwin on Sunday morning and are now providing medical assistance at the hospital in the battled capital of Port Vila.

The team includes NCCTRC trauma coordinator and nurse Bronte Martin who was involved in AUSMAT’s disaster deployment to the Philippines in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in late 2013.

The Australian Red Cross expects to deploy registered nurses within days while the New Zealand Red Cross has deployed one Kiwi nurse as part of its Field Assessment Coordination Team (FACT).


Medical Officer- Rehabilitation
St Vincent's Private Hospital Northside
Human Resources Advisor
St Vincent's Hospital
Registered Nurse/Clinical Nurse (Accident and Emergency Department)
SA Health, Flinders & Upper North Local Health Network

As Australian tourists returned home in the aftermath of the severe tropical cyclone, which razed the island nation on Friday night with wind gusts of up to 320 kilometres an hour, relief flights from Australia and New Zealand continued to arrive.

The AUSMAT team has been deployed for up to 14 days and will provide immediate relief and assistance to local authorities.

The NCCTRC is also on standby to deploy its full field hospital capability, which was referred to as Camp Kookaburra when it was established next to Tacloban airport, to treat victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Northern Territory Health Minister John Elferink applauded the efforts of the group of health workers and others working to assist Australia’s Pacific neighbours.

“The hours, days and weeks which follow a natural disaster are always the most difficult, so it is important that help is quickly made available for those affected,” he said.

“The members of the team are leaving their families and homes behind to help others, something which is truly to be admired.”

The Australian Red Cross is likely to send nurses and psychologists, who will provide psychological assistance for those left traumatised by the cyclone, as part of its community health response to Vanuatu.

With an estimated 80 per cent of homes being destroyed and thousands in desperate need of food, shelter and water, the Red Cross has focused on deploying shelter specialists, water and sanitation experts, and disaster management specialists in its initial response.

The Australian Red Cross has launched the Cyclone Pam (Vanuatu) 2015 Appeal to provide humanitarian support. Donations can be made here.


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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords