Philippines typhoon survivors search for their belongings at a devastated area in Tacloban City, Leyte province. Aid workers and relief supplies are being poured into eastern provinces hit by Typhoon Haiyan.
Philippines typhoon survivors search for their belongings at a devastated area in Tacloban City, Leyte province. Aid workers and relief supplies are being poured into eastern provinces hit by Typhoon Haiyan. MAST IRHAM

Aussie medical team offers relief in Philippines

A CRACK team of 37 medical experts - including three Queenslanders - has now landed in the Philippines after being dispatched by the Federal Government from Darwin.

The Australian Medical Assistant Team, or AUSMAT, forms part of the relief effort offered as the Philippines reels from the unspeakable devastation left behind by Typhoon Haiyan.

Up to 10,000 have perished in the cities, with much of the population in the worst-affected areas like Tacloban now left desperate for shelter, food and drinkable water.

Queensland Health chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said the AUSMAT team would include surgeons, anesthetists, nurses, paramedics, an environmental health officer, pharmacist, radiographer and logisticians.

A doctor and nurse from Cairns plus a doctor from Brisbane are part of the deployment.

Beyond their training and preparation for such a disaster, the AUSMAT team will be accompanied by a 50-bed hospital, x-ray facility, two operating theatres, medical supplies to treat up to 4000 people and perform 200 operations.

Food and water-purifying equipment will be such that the team will put little burden on local resources.

Meanwhile, Queensland's highly-specialised search and rescue team - able to move from phone call to take-off in six hours - are likely to be kept on standby.

The capabilities of Australia Task Force One, a 75-strong crew taken from Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Health were promised to the Philippines by Premier Campbell Newman earlier this week although they formally fall under federal control.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services superintendent Stephen Smith said it was now "very unlikely" the task force would be called to respond.

For Christchurch's earthquake or the Samoan tsunami, they have been called to act as soon as the disaster unfolds.

"Generally it will be in the first wave - we would be on the ground very quickly after the initial impact and stay there for 10 to 14 days," he said.


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