The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) is a cooperative asset-sharing program that augments local medical care when an emergency exceeds the scope of a community’s hospital and healthcare resources. The emergency resources – which include some 8,000 medical and support personnel – come from federal, state and local governments, the private sector and civilian volunteers.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, now part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), coordinates all components of NDMS, including:
- 55 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs), which include specialized teams to handle burns, pediatrics, crush injuries, surgery and mental health;
- 11 Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Teams (DMORTs), which consist of private citizens with specialized training and experience to help in the recovery, identification and processing of deceased victims, including one team with WMD capabilities;
- 4 National Medical Response Teams (NMRTs), to deal with the medical consequences of incidents potentially involving chemical, biological or nuclear materials;
- 4 Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMATs), which include clinician veterinarians, pathologists, animal health technicians, microbiologists and others who assist animal disaster victims and provide care to search dogs; and
- 3 International Medical Surgical Response Teams (IMSuRTs), -- one operational and two under development - highly specialized, trained and equipped to establish a fully capable free standing field surgical facility anywhere in the world.
NDMS - previously part of the Department of Health and Human Services– became part of DHS when the department was created in 2003. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense also participate in NDMS.