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Expert Australian medical team treats thousands hurt by massive typhoon

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A crack team of Australian doctors, nurses and support staff have begun treating hundreds of injured Filipinos in a self-contained portable hospital set up in an area of the Philippines left devastated by a massive typhoon.

The medical team was rushed to Tacloban City less than 48 hours after Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded, left a path of destruction across one of the Philippines’ main islands, killing more than 4400 people and leaving up to a million without adequate shelter or safe water supplies.

The 36-member team is experienced in operating in the chaotic aftermath of major natural disasters, and took with it all equipment needed to operate a stand-alone 60-bed hospital, complete with two operating theatres, x-ray facilities, generators, food, water purification systems and medical supplies.

The team, which is drawn from the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales, comprises two surgeons, two anaesthetists, four other doctors, 15 nurses, four paramedics, a radiographer, a pharmacist, an environmental health officer and six logistical experts.

The team is expected to have sufficient supplies and equipment to treat around 3500 patients, including 200 operations, by the end of the month.

Its deployment has been coordinated by the Darwin-based National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, and Centre head Dr Len Notaras said the team was highly trained and experienced.

“They’ll have a sixty bed, fully deployable hospital, which is air conditioned, its own generators, its own power sources, and fuel, and as well as that they’ll have their own sleeping quarters, their own food and so on,” Dr Notaras told ABC radio.

“It will be a confronting scene but, by the same token, these are highly trained individuals who are well equipped to respond to events such as this and will be, as soon as they touch down, able to provide assistance to the people of the Philippines.”

Adrian Rollins