Medical team gathers at request of Schaefer to offer 'healing' to Kuwaitis WAR IN THE GULF


February 28, 1991|By David Michael Ettlin

A team of more than 200 medical professionals -- including disaster specialists -- has been assembled at the behest of Gov. William Donald Schaefer and a group of Maryland business leaders to offer emergency care and help establish health-care systems in war-ravaged Kuwait.

Although the legal work of financing and incorporating the non-profit, largely volunteer task force of doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health workers is incomplete, the group is preparing to leave for Kuwait on 24 hours' notice -- if asked.

The idea of offering emergency medical services grew out of meetings this month between state economic development officials and a group of Maryland contractors eager to take part in the rebuilding of Kuwait -- but deciding, a spokesman said, that "healing" the country might have to take precedence.

In a Feb. 13 letter noting that Maryland was "committed to the effort to liberate and to rebuild Kuwait," Governor Schaefer offered to Kuwait's ruler the resources of Maryland medical institutions to "help in the healing process."

As of yesterday, Kuwait had not responded.

Dr. James A. D'Orta, assistant director of emergency medicine at the Franklin Square Hospital Center, assembled the medical task force with help from the Center for Disaster Medicine of the University of New Mexico.

"From our standpoint, there is no money in disasters," Dr. D'Orta said yesterday. "Whether one person got a contract or did not get a contract on the business side has no effect on what we're doing.

"We possess a unique talent because we've been involved in other disasters," said Dr. D'Orta, who directed initial medical treatment after the 1987 Amtrak-Conrail disaster in Chase.

Initially, a team of as many as 100 specialists drawn from New Mexico and Maryland -- the latter chiefly from the Franklin Square, Johns Hopkins and University hospitals and from the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services -- would fly to Kuwait.

The team would be "logistically self-sufficient" for personal and patient needs for the first few days as it provided medical care to as many as 500 people daily, or up to 250 requiring hospital-level treatment.

It would also assess long-term needs, many of which would be provided in a second phase by as many as 117 other people, Dr. D'Orta said.

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