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Emergency Medical Teams – National Focal Point

Contact: Dr. Cornelius Bartels


Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) provide rapid medical assistance in response to national and international health crises like natural disasters or disease outbreaks. They are divided into different categories: They range from Type 1 - an outpatient clinic to Type 3 - a fully equipped field hospital including intensive care. The distinctive feature of EMTs lies in their classification by the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure quality standards and logistical self-sufficiency. EMTs are deployed upon a request for assistance by an affected country, which is also in charge of coordination of national and international EMTs. According to WHO only certified teams shall deploy to disaster areas. The 'EMT Initiative' is a lesson learned from the earthquake disaster in Haiti in 2010, to which many medical teams deployed without coordination and quality control.

EMTs in Germany

There are currently five classified EMT Type 1 in Germany, all of which are run by non-governmental organisations. In addition, three EMTs are undergoing the mentoring and classification process.

The German 'National Focal Point for Emergency Medical Teams'

Within the scope of the EMT initiative, the WHO asked Ministries of Health to designate a National Focal Point (NFP). The National Focal Point is the central contact point and interface between national EMTs, the relevant ministries and international institutions. Furthermore, the NFP ensures flow of information and facilitates mobilisation of EMTs.

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

The NFP was established at the Robert Koch Institute within the implementation of the Centre for International Health Protection in December 2018. The expert appointed by the Federal Ministry of Health is Dr. Cornelius Bartels MD MPH. Before his time at the RKI, Dr. Bartels worked as a specialist in anaesthesiology, intensive care and emergency medicine. Furthermore, he is an expert for management of highly infectious diseases. Dr. Bartels is a member of the WHO working group for a review of the so-called 'EMT Blue Book', which defines the standards for EMT classification, treatment and equipment. Within the Institute Dr. Bartels is supported by a team of three Technical Officers.

Date: 05.12.2019