In the operating room, the machines beep to indicate that the patient who tested positive for COVID-19 and had an emergency caesarean delivery is doing well. The simulated exercise is successful. The phoney patient sits up, the doctor takes stock, and the onlookers put away their paperwork.
From 11 to 13 May, the Senegalese Armed Forces Health Service simulated the deployment of an emergency medical unit (EMU) in the setting of an outbreak. The Senegalese team will test and improve COVID-19 patient clinical care. The exercise, coordinated by Military Medical Services with WHO cooperation, is a vital step towards International Type 2 EMT certification. This means being able to deploy and build a field hospital with at least 30 beds, including beds for medical and surgical resuscitation, in less than 72 hours. The EMU must treat 2500 patients in four weeks.
Senegal will become the first African country with international EMU accreditation after one or two years. The nation has had several medical crises. His squad was dispatched to DRC during an Ebola epidemic in 2018 and to Sierra Leone in 2021 after a fuel tank explosion killed 115 and wounded hundreds.
“We have the know-how, deployment capabilities, and personnel resources,” says Colonel Amady Barro Mbodj, Senior Exercise Evaluator. “We want abilities that let us relocate anyplace and meet international norms.”
59 personnel of the senegalese armed forces health service were deployed. Nine containers were required to transfer the equipment to the Thiès military camp, 70 kilometres from the capital Dakar.
“Logistics is important,” explains Logistics Sergeant Ibrahim Ba. “First, we had to level the ground and, due to COVID-19, adjust the spacing between buildings to minimise contamination. We built a hospital in 48 hours. Usually 72 hours or more “”Soldier,”
The team was then tested on its capacity to deliver health services in health crises and epidemics. The ability to deploy the EMU in less than 72 hours, the operation of medical and surgical equipment, and the care of surgical pathologies during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic were examined.
The EMU of Senegal must pass numerous procedures before certification, including meeting emergency criteria. External observers and WHO will provide a roadmap. Before the EMU is certified, further deployment simulation exercises are needed.
“In the African Region, 80% of public health crises are epidemics, such as cholera, Ebola, Lassa Fever, and COVID-19. Preparing medical teams to react to epidemics is crucial “Dr. Thierno Baldé, Head of COVID-19 Response Operations at WHO Africa, is on site. “We want EMUs to manage and increase clinical management capability in epidemics throughout the continent.”
Cameroon, DRC, Ethiopia, Guinea, and Congo were invited to observe. “We were inspired by the Senegalese EMT, a model in West Africa, to build up a national emergency medical team in Guinea,” says Doctor Captain Salifou Mariétou Sylla.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, WHO has deployed 18 international EMUs in 16 countries in the Region and trained health professionals in COVID-19 care. WHO is helping Botswana, Ethiopia, Namibia, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe create national EMUs.
“This simulated exercise should teach other African nations that emergency medical teams are feasible,” stated Dr. Thierno Baldé.