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The role of the Field Emergency Medical Officer (FEMO) program in any disaster is to assist in coordinating health resources, and provide support and advice to any in-field health personnel or other agencies.

The Field Emergency Medical Officer;

  • Provides advanced medical and clinical advice to ambulance services
  • Provides advanced medical care to patients
  • Liaises with the Health Commander to determine the appropriate casualty receiving hospital(s)
  • Assesses the need for, activates and manages VMAT (Victorian Medical Assistance Teams)
  • Refers casualties to alternative care options (such as GPs)
  • Manages health and medical volunteers
  • The FEMO will usually be based near the scene of the disaster.

The program is auspiced by St Vincent’s Health and funded by the Victorian Government’s Department of Health. Contact: St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne 41 Victoria Parade Fitzroy VIC 3065. Reception: Tel: 03 9231 2211. Fax: 03 9231 3399

The State Health Emergency Response Plan (SHERP) outlines the arrangements for coordinating the health response to emergency incidents that go beyond day-to-day business arrangements. This includes mass casualty incidents and complex trauma events. SHERP provides scalable arrangements to manage pre-hospital and hospital responses to emergency incidents. SHERP identifies Victorian Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT) as an organisational element that supports this scalable response.

The requirement for VMAT assistance at the incident will be determined by the Incident Health Commander (Ambulance Victoria) on advice from the Field Emergency Medical Officer (FEMO). The FEMO will advise the Health Commander (Ambulance Victoria) of the need to request a VMAT.

Caches of VMAT equipment have been deployed to the following Gippsland Regional Trauma Centres: Central Gippsland Health– CGH Sale Campus and Latrobe Regional Hospital (LRH -Traralgon).

As stated in SHERP, medical and nursing resources are required where:

  • Transport will be delayed and extended care is required in the field
  • A patient is unable to be moved and specialist clinical skills are required
  • There are large numbers of patients who require specialist expertise (such as children)
  • There are large numbers of low-acuity patients who could be discharged from the scene after medical assessment
  • A temporary clinical facility (such as the Field Primary Care Clinic) requires staffing.