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Emergency Medical Teams – National Focal Point

Contacts: Sonja Schmidmeier, Roland Wilhelm


Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) provide rapid medical assistance to relieve local health care systems during national and international health crises, such as natural disasters or disease outbreaks. They are divided into different categories: They range from Type 1 – an outpatient treatment facility, to Type 3 – a fully equipped hospital including an intensive care unit. The distinctive feature of EMTs lies in their classification by the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure quality of treatment and logistical self-sufficiency. In the event of an incident, EMTs are requested and coordinated by the respective government of the affected country. The global 'EMT Initiative' led by the WHO is a consequence of the earthquake disaster in Haiti in 2010, where many medical teams deployed without coordination or quality control.

EMTs in Germany

In Germany, there are currently five Emergency Medical Teams classified as Type 1, all of which are operated by non-governmental organizations. These are Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund, humedica, I.S.A.R. Germany, Johanniter-Unfall-Hilfe e.V. and Malteser International. In addition, three other EMTs - Cadus e.V., Medizinisches Hilfswerk (MHW) and Navis e.V. - are currently in the mentoring and classification process.

National Focal Point for Emergency Medical Teams

Within the scope of the EMT initiative, the WHO asked the ministries of health of each member state to designate a National Focal Point (NFP). The National Focal Point is intended to serve as a central contact point and interface between national EMTs, relevant ministries and international institutions to ensure the flow of information and facilitate coordination in the mobilization of EMTs. As part of the establishment of the Centre for International Health Protection (ZIG), the function of EMT National Focal Point was established at the Robert Koch Institute.

Roles of the National Focal Point for Emergency Medical Teams. Source: RKI, 2019

Activities of the EMT NFP

In addition to coordinating and supporting the German EMTs, the EMT NFP at the RKI aims to make a broad contribution to the global EMT initiative. Quality assurance of emergency medical assistance, logistical self-sufficiency, coordination of EMT missions and national EMT capacity building are the focus of the global EMT initiative.

The activities of the EMT NFP at the RKI include operational mission support, including the operational management of EMT missions, liaison with other departments (BMG, AA, BMI/BBK) and the analysis and processing of lessons learned and best practices by conducting after-action reviews following EMT missions. Strengthening international and national EMT capacity is supported within the framework of the GHPP programme by conducting EMT coordination training and through "twinning" partnerships, whereby a classified German EMT is paired with a partner country's EMT to share experiences. In addition, the EMT NFP is the co-host of the EMT Technical Working Group on Highly Infectious Diseases, which develops minimum standards for the work of EMTs in the context of outbreaks.

Date: 22.04.2022