NMPA clinical midwifery fellow deployed to Turkey as data manager following earthquakes
Alessandra Morelli, NMPA clinical midwifery fellow, was recently (February 2023) deployed to Türkiye (Turkey) following the devastating earthquakes in the area. In the below blog she reflects on her role as data manager for the UK-EMT.
I have been on the UK-Med register for four years and this was my first deployment with the UK Emergency Medical Team (UK-EMT). UK-Med is a frontline medical aid charity that provides clinical and non-clinical staff for the UK-EMT. Although I am a midwife, I was deployed as a data manager, supporting the clinical data collection and reporting to the WHO Emergency Medical Team Coordination Cell (EMTCC).
At the time I was deployed, the UK was providing a team of about 100 emergency medical personnel with a field hospital and clinic in Türkoğlu, a town of Kahramanmaraş province in the Mediterranean region of Turkey, where the hospital was severely damaged by the earthquake. The UK team that was sent to support with the earthquake response included not only UK-EMT staff but also Ministry of Defence medics, all working alongside Turkish medical staff at Türkoğlu to provide urgently needed life-saving care. We were also supported by local translators, which were mainly Turkish medical students. Their contribution to the deployment was essential, and we wouldn’t have been able to provide any care without them.
Within three days of our arrival, we set up the field hospital and integrated with the Turkish staff to provide medical care to the local population. There was lack of basic items such as food, water, clothing and blankets. Whilst the majority of trauma cases were dealt with on our arrival, we were seeing primarily primary healthcare patients with communicable diseases linked to the living conditions and freezing temperatures. Many pregnant women that were attending our facility experienced disruption to their routine antenatal care, and were mostly attending for routine antenatal checks.
As a first wave responder, I came back from deployment after 21 days, but another team arrived to take over in Türkoğlu and they are still providing care in the field hospital and outreach clinics.
Seeing the devastation and disruption to daily lives was heart-breaking, but the team was amazing. The local staff and patients were all very welcoming and we integrated very well. We were able not only to support the local community, but also to support each other. This level of teamwork efficiency, empathy and compassion is something I have never experienced before.
I am very grateful to the College for the opportunity of being deployed at such a short notice and the overwhelming support, especially from the NMPA team, during my deployment and when I returned to the UK.
For more information and to support UK-Med visit: Turkey-Syria Appeal - UK-Med.