The First Assistance Samaritan Team (FAST), which is responsible for fast-track aid during crisis abroad, is the first group in Europe to be certified as “Emergency Medical Team (EMT) 1” by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
ASB's FAST team successfully demonstrated its abilities during the certification process. FAST now belongs to Europe's first NGOs who were classified by the WHO. Therefore, FAST teams can be part of WHO coordinated operations during future disaster situations.
„We have seen that the team fulfills our high standards and we say congratulations", says Dr. Ian Norton who leads the EMT classification process. On 13th and 14th of July, the expert and six of his WHO co-workers reviewed the standards and processes of the ASB-FAST in Frankfurt on the Main and Darmstadt. Norton emphasized the drinking water purification capacities of the team. "Your expertise is impressive and I am looking forward to your contributions in our cooperation."
Federal executive board member Ludwig Frölich thanked the WHO team as well as the tested FAST group. "The WHO classification is very important for us because we promote high standards in disaster relief", says Frölich who is volunteering in the FAST himself. "We are very happy and proud to work under WHO's lead in the future."
It took the team one and a half years to prepare for a successful WHO classification. EMT 1 classified teams are expected to have the capacity to deploy at least 20 members, providing emergency aid after natural disasters. In order to meet this criterion, FAST changed its structure considerably, resulting in an increased team size and a larger operating space.
Another one of WHO's requirements is a resource efficient sustenance of our staff during their operations. FAST can look back on ten years experience in drinking water purification. This knowledge is highly beneficial when it comes to supplying water for the staff. Our qualified and highly trained volunteers are self sufficient for up to 14 days.
"With regards to our medical supply we expanded our spectrum. Thus we are ready to deploy even faster", explains Nina Stücke. She coordinates the FAST teams of 120 volunteers from all over Germany.
The EMT standardization aims at improving the coordination of disaster response and thus helping to save people's lives. The system has three grades: EMT 1 teams need to be with at least three doctors as well as nine paramedics and they need capacities to treat at least 50 patients a day. EMT 2 needs to provide a mobile operating room and 20 beds for inpatient care. For the EMT 3 classification, a mobile hospital with many operation rooms and one intensive care unit are required.
The certification was introduced after the earthquake of Haiti in 2010, when some aid groups were helping without an overriding coordination.
The First Assistance Samaritan Teams are an instrument for fast-track aid. They are part of ASB's foreign aid department. After disasters and conflicts, the members of FAST help worldwide in the fields of drinking water purification and medical care. ASB members from all over Germany form the voluntary FAST teams. They receive an intensive training before their deployment. Last operations were in Haiti (2017, 2016, 2010), Bosnia-Herzegovina (2014), the Philippines (2013), Northern Iraq (2012) and Sumatra/Indonesia (2009).