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(Updates A.M. Press Release)
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson this afternoon dispatched the first emergency medical and mortuary teams to the New York City and Washington, D.C., areas to assist emergency personnel and local health providers in caring for victims of the airplane attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In addition, Secretary Thompson provided for an emergency shipment of medical supplies to New York City.
The initial units included more than 300 medical and mortuary personnel. Additional disaster units will be provided to the areas as specific needs are identified, Secretary Thompson said. Earlier in the day, Secretary Thompson made all federal disaster medical units nationwide ready to be dispatched where needed.
Four Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) are being sent to Stewart National Guard Base, Newburg, NY., with one DMAT each coming from New Jersey (Lyons, N.J.), and New York (White Plains), and two from Massachusetts (Boston and Worcester).
Three DMATs are being dispatched to the Anacostia Receiving Center in Washington, D.C., with one each coming from the Washington , D.C., area (Rockville, Md.), North Carolina (Winston-Salem), and Georgia (Atlanta).
Each DMAT includes about 35 physicians, nurses and emergency technicians. The units are trained to deal with traumatic injuries and other emergency medical needs.
In addition, HHS dispatched four Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORTs) to New York and three to Washington, D.C. Each DMORT includes about 10 morticians, anthropologists and forensic specialists. These units are trained to identify victims and properly prepare them for burial, and they are trained to deal with mass casualties.
Secretary Thompson also authorized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to release emergency medical supplies to New York City.
Secretary Thompson's action earlier in the day to activate the National Disaster Medical System was the first time the federally coordinated response system had been activated on a full nationwide basis. The Secretary's action put 80 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) located throughout the country on the ready to be deployed, and 7,000 private sector medical and support personnel ready to be dispatched.
HHS continued Tuesday working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and local health officials to assess medical needs and provide medical and emergency personnel.
HHS is also working with local health officials to identify regional hospital capacity and provide for expanding access to hospital beds as needed in the New York and Washington, D.C., areas. Included in these preparations is action by the Department of Veterans Affairs to make available as many emergency beds as possible in affected areas.
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