Three states team up for Disaster Medical Assistance Team

New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine are teaming up to form a specialized Disaster Medical Assistance Team to provide help during any national security event or disaster, both natural and manmade.

The team, known as New Hampshire-1, draws from across New England for personnel and is ready to quickly deploy to incidents as needed. The team can provide on-scene medical care or strengthen surge capacity for hospital or EMS units during an intentional attack or mass casualty event. Recently, 18 members of the NH-1 team were deployed within hours after Hurricane Sandy made landfall to provide medical care for evacuees and support for 911 services.

"I've been involved with the National Disaster Medical System since the late 1980s, and the NH-1 team is unique," Robert Gougelet, the team's commander, said. "We have come together as a core group of people who can work in intense austere environments. If we are called upon, I am confident we will get the job done."

The 56-member team has broad expertise in toxicology, emergency medicine, respiratory therapy and radiological production. The team includes a toxicologist with expertise on lethal airborne chemicals, a fire captain and a hospital chief medical officer among its ranks.

When the team is activated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the team members leave their everyday jobs to become intermittent federal employees.

"NDMS relies on the support of our private sector employers," Gougelet said. "They allow us to serve our country on short notice in critical medical roles as we are pulled from hospitals and provider sites. I tell the team, we couldn't do our job without their support."