Australia deploys field hospital as surgical hub, evacuates over 1,000 from Tacloban
Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell personally inspected over the weekend Australian relief operations around Cebu and Leyte, just as the Australian Medical Assistance Team (AusMAT) quickly set up a 50-bed field hospital that is now functioning as the surgical hub in Tacloban. The city bore the brunt of devastation from Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). The field hospital is equipped with an X-ray facility, two operating theatres, five triage outpatient tents, and medical supplies to treat up to 4,000 patients and perform up to 200 operations.
Ambassador Tweddell also joined Australian civilian and defence personnel in ferrying survivors from Tacloban to Mactan, Cebu on the C-130 planes that Australia’s Royal Air Force deployed.
The Australian teams are working tirelessly to help manage possible humanitarian problems that usually arise from a crisis such as Yolanda, which the United Nations already declared as a level 3 incident, the highest possible level. Complications from factors such as hunger, dehydration, exposure and unsanitary conditions threaten communities already severely affected.
Among the teams on the ground are Australian Defence Force (ADF) units airlifting displaced survivors to safer locations and bringing in much needed relief goods, aid workers, expertise and supplies. The 37-person AusMAT is a civilian team from Darwin, Australia, comprised of doctors, nurses, logisticians, environmental health specialists and pharmacists. In a span of just two days, the AusMAT has already treated close to a hundred patients and performed eight surgical procedures.
“Every death is a tragedy, so avoiding secondary deaths after a disaster is critical, which is why the Australian Government made it a priority to provide a surgically capable field hospital and other humanitarian support to relief operations on the ground,” said Ambassador Tweddell. “We want the Filipino people to know in their hearts that they are not alone as they go through this ordeal. Australia stands by its friend and neighbour the Philippines as we go through the initial phase of rescue and recovery, through rehabilitation and then finally to rebuilding. It’s not just infrastructure in Central Visayas, but the lives of people themselves. Already, we have been inspired by the Filipino Spirit, which I got to see first-hand.”
Australia’s humanitarian assistance is PHP1.2 billion (A$30 million), which includes:
• PHP 530 million (A$13 million) to the United Nations Flash Appeal;
• PHP 530 million (A$13 million) to be provided through Australian non-government organisations and their partners on the ground for immediate life-saving assistance;
• PHP 82 million (A$2 million) for the urgent deployment of an AusMAT;
• PHP 41 million (A$1 million) for non-food items such as tarpaulins, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, water containers and health and hygiene kits to assist families affected by this disaster; and
• PHP 41 million (A$1 million) to be provided to the Australian Federal Police to provide disaster management specialists.
Australia’s assistance already involves three planes and will soon be augmented by an amphibious ship, the HMAS Tobruk, which has heavy-lift capability and supports helicopter and landing craft operations, critical in areas such as those severely affected by Typhoon Yolanda that are hard to reach. Australia’s C-130 transport plane has already evacuated over a thousand of people from from Leyte to Mactan and shuttled 251,660 lbs. of relief cargo into Tacloban.
“The Australian Government is continuing to work with our partners in the Philippine Government, international organisations and local civil society to assess how we can increasingly support the more remote areas that have been affected,” Ambassador Tweddell said.
Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell visits Australia’s relief and emergency consular center in Tacloban. Australia works with local organisations and government partners to deliver Australia’s assistance. On his arrival, Ambassador Tweddell receives a briefing from Australian alumnus Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda of the AFP Central Command.
The Australian Medical Assistance Team (AusMAT) has quickly set up a 50-bed field hospital that is now functioning as the surgical hub for Tacloban. The field hospital is equipped with an X-ray facility, two operating theatres, five triage outpatient tents, and medical supplies to treat up to 4,000 patients and perform up to 200 operations.
Members of the Australian Medical Assistance Team (in blue) and emergency response staff from the Australian Embassy (in yellow vest), assist survivors of Typhoon Yolanda. Australia was quick to respond to the crisis, sending relief goods and emergency workers into the Typhoon-affected areas.
Ambassador Tweddell speaks with a Typhoon survivor who is waiting to board the Australian C-130 from Tacloban to Cebu.
Ambassador Tweddell, with officers of the Australian Embassy (in yellow vests), meets young survivors who were airlifted from Guiuan aboard an Australian C-130 plane.
Australia has provided two C-130 cargo planes to bring relief goods and supplies into Tacloban, and assist people displaced by the typhoon to leave.