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Developing Vibrant State Defense Forces: A Successful Medical and Health Service Model

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Journal article

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The Katrina disaster spiked concern among Federal planners that ...the emergency medical response system is woefully inadequate. Katrina starkly revealed numerous holes in our ability to deal with mass casualties, including the lack of any coordinated system for recruiting, deploying, and managing volunteers. In this article, the authors present a significant counter example to these uncoordinated volunteers by documenting how well-trained and highly disciplined State Defense Force SDF medical units can provide basic to mid-level acuity medical capacity to augment overwhelmed first responders during mass casualty events. One such unit, the Maryland Defense Force MDDF medical command now the 10th Medical Regiment 10MEDRGT, served with distinction during the Hurricane Katrina crisis when called up by Marylands Adjutant General, Major General Bruce F. Tuxill. During the 2 12 weeks they were deployed in the field, the 10MEDRGT provided a variety of medical services for more than 6,000 injured and suffering patients at six MDDF field treatment stations. The success of the 10MEDRGT demonstrates that these virtually unknown state military organizations can, under proper direction, provide much needed surge medical capacity to first responders who are quickly overwhelmed in large-scale crises like Katrina. The need for a sufficient and reliable source of cohesively organized emergency medical volunteers is too great to have to rely on the spontaneous unaffiliated volunteers who converge on disaster scenes only to become part of the problem. Instead, why not expand SDF medical commands which are well situated to ramp up to provide this organized surge capacity manpower. This can happen if SDFs conduct two major activities. First, they must exploit the sense of national jeopardy that stirs volunteerism in the wake of critical events like Katrina and 911. Second, they must recruit and organize medical professionals into cohesive, SDF medical units.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Military Forces and Organizations

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