Stanford forms emergency-medical-response team

Program aims to provide rapid aid for disaster relief

Members of the Stanford medical community have formed the Stanford Emergency Medicine Program for Emergency Response (S.E.M.P.E.R) in order to more swiftly react to disasters worldwide. The program's team, which was put together in the wake of last year's devastating earthquake in Haiti, is comprised of more than 40 Stanford doctors and nurses.

"The more quickly injured people receive care, the more likely they are to survive," Dr. Bob Norris, chief of emergency medicine at Stanford Hospital and Clinics and a S.E.M.P.E.R member, said in a press release.

But often, it takes days for international medical responders to arrive. According to the release, after the earthquake in Haiti, it was 72 hours before a team from Stanford Hospitals and Clinics arrived on their relief mission. Time was spent getting immunizations, supplies and travel documents together for the trip.

Although the Stanford relief mission was among the first to respond, some Haitians who had infections or needed urgent care had already died.

"By that point we recognized the need for a small, nimble team -- a team that stayed in a state of readiness with pre-planned equipment and pharmaceuticals so it could be out the door within six hours," Norris said.

To that end, S.E.M.P.E.R (Latin for "always") was formed. The program is staffed by trained volunteers who are ready to leave immediately with the proper medical supplies. However, the team still relies on established humanitarian relief organization to provide transportation.

Members of the program also intend to conduct research on disaster medicine to help contribute to the literature that doctors use to treat patients in a disaster situation, the statement reported.

— Aaron Guggenheim


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