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The Texas Emergency Medical Task Force (TX EMTF) is the response system developed by Regional Advisory Councils, the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and local EMS and Hospital stakeholders to fulfill the need for short notice, emergency health care during a disaster or significant incident. The program was developed in 2009, focusing on lessons learned from the catastrophic 2008 Hurricane Season in Texas, as well as Hurricanes Katrina/Rita and the events of 9/11/2001. The Texas Emergency Medical Task Force utilizes local and regional resources from jurisdictions and healthcare organizations that provide emergency services and high-quality healthcare every day through regional mutual aid agreements and a state memorandum of agreement.
The TX EMTF is comprised of eight regional teams and a statewide coordinating entity that is capable of activating prepositioned regional resources on a state mission at the request of the DSHS or the Texas Division of Emergency Management to support impacted jurisdictions with emergency medical infrastructure support. These eight regional teams, strategically located throughout the State of Texas, align with the DSHS Public Health Regions and are co-located with Regional Advisory Councils across the State. These regional teams leverage existing relationships with EMS Providers, Fire Departments, Hospitals and Healthcare entities to provide personnel and essential resources available to respond throughout the State when needed. The EMTF Program consists of nine components: Ambulance Strike Teams (AST), Ambulance Buses, Mobile Medical Units (MMU), Registered Nurse Strike Teams (RNST), Ambulance Staging Management (ASM) personnel, Medical Incident Support Teams (MIST), Air Medical Strike Teams, Mass Fatality Operational Response Teams (TMORT), and Infectious Disease Response Teams (IDRU). These components provide maximum flexibility for the activation, deployment and utilization of specialized teams and resources needed for unique situations and missions resulting from tragedies, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfire, flooding, terrorism and any other natural or manmade disaster.
Each regional Task Force is made up of ASTs, one to four (1-4) Ambulance Buses, a MMU, RNSTs and a comprehensive overhead support team, capable of providing command and control of all deployed resources. Built into this overhead team is a significant operational and logistics capability, to include the MISTs and ASM teams. This model provides a modular and scalable approach to disaster response that first focuses on regional capability and can be augmented by additional resources through a state activation. Additional capabilities continue to be developed, including the IDRU and TMORT components.
The key to the success of the Texas Emergency Medical Task Force depends on our partnerships with EMS Providers, Hospitals and Healthcare Systems throughout the State of Texas who provide personnel and resources to provide care to Texans during significant regional and statewide disasters. This partnership involves state government, regional coalitions, local government, as well as public and private healthcare organizations to accomplish this goal. This program serves as a model within Texas, recognized nationwide by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.