September 10, 2005: A two-member CMAT assessment team consisting of two advanced care paramedics from British Columbia have returned from Baton Rouge yesterday. The team was deployed by CMAT to assess the need for deployment of the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams’s Medical Response Team. After three days in the Area of Operations (AOO) and completion of an on-ground tactical assessment, it was determined that CMAT’s team of 13 advanced care physicians, trauma nurses and flight paramedics should not be deployed to the area.
The two-member assessment team cited significant political infighting and substantial lack of command and control structure, which together posed serious problems for logistical support and basic information. At one point, CMAT team members reported that satellite phone communications had been jammed. CMAT’s recommendations to the Paramedics of Canada (PAC) are not to endorse any medical groups wishing to deploy to the disaster zone unless there is complete support from the Government of Canada and at the State level of the U.S. Government. The CMAT assessment team advised that venturing into the AOO at the present time would be extremely dangerous to personal safety without logistical support and even basic travel needs at the present time are difficult, at best. The CMAT assessment team had to drive from Baton Rouge to Houston, Texas just to leave the area.
CMAT is continuing to monitor the situation and is working to establish strategic partnerships with local NGO’s, including the Canadian and American Red Cross on the ground and is continuing to remain on standby in the event teams are asked to be deployed.