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Emergency Response and Preparedness

Because disaster can strike anywhere, anytime, the ability to respond even in the most remote areas of the world is essential for effective emergency response. And with the acute phase of disaster response—when most lives are can be saved and life-threatening disease contained— spanning just 72 hours, deployment speed is critical. Preparing communities in advance how best to respond to adversity on their own when it occurs is also crucial, creating a response capability that is both immediate and helps build self-reliance.

International Medical Corps is widely recognized as a pre-eminent first responder with a global reach, delivering humanitarian relief to individuals and communities in need for more than three decades. Such work depends on trained, experienced personnel, and we maintain an active roster of experts with skills in emergency response operations.

Combined with pre-positioned stocks of essential supplies, and ongoing partnerships with both international and local aid groups, we maintain the needed surge capacity to respond to emergencies in the most challenging environments, regardless of scale or geographic location. In recent years, International Medical Corps has responded to large-scale disasters, including the 2010 Haiti earthquake within 22 hours; the 2004 Indian Tsunami and 2013 Philippines typhoon within 24 hours.

International Medical Corps also builds self-reliance by helping prepare communities through training programs for local staff so they can respond better to future disasters. Working with communities, we develop emergency systems that cover the spectrum from household to national-level in order to reduce the impact of future disasters and, in the long-term, possibly prevent them.

AREAS OF FOCUS

  • Emergency Response
  • Community-based Emergency Preparedness
  • Training and Capacity-building
  • Disaster Risk Reduction

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International Medical Corps staff talk about the Ebola crisis and what it’s like to work in an Ebola Treatment Unit.
First Responders talk to the media about our Ebola response and staying safe while providing critical health care.

STORY FROM THE FIELD

Haiti Earthquake: Honoring 5 Years

Five-years after the 2010 earthquake devastated Haiti, International Medical Corps’ teams are still on the ground delivering vital health care and training services to help disaster-affected communities return to self-reliance.

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Logistics

Since 1984, International Medical Corps' Logistics staff has provided procurement, shipping and supply chain operations in 70 countries, responding to the world's most challenging humanitarian crises.

International Medical Corps’ Logistics capacity has expanded exponentially since our early days in Afghanistan, when the organization relied on a small group of dedicated volunteers for support. Since then, the Logistics team has grown to include an international network of staff and has responded to large-scale emergencies - including the Indian Ocean tsunami, the earthquake in Haiti, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, conflict in Libya, and famine in East Africa - while continuing to support International Medical Corps’ ongoing relief programs in some 30 countries worldwide.

Logistics is orchestrated primarily at the field or country level by a combination of local and international staff. They provide day-to-day support for in-country programs by organizing local procurement, storage, maintenance and distribution of all materials needed.

In International Medical Corps’ response in Ethiopia for instance, this includes the provision of vehicles and communications equipment for staff; in-country receipt and onward trucking of latrine materials and sanitation tools; distribution of feeding materials; and negotiation for storage in camp locations.

In-country operations are supported by a global management team - working from headquarters and base offices on three continents – which procures/tracks/ships internationally and serves as the focal point for the initial stages of an emergency response. International Medical Corps Logistics is further supplemented by a group of roving staff who cover in-country capacity building, and can deploy logistics experts to any crisis in the world within 24 hours.

International Medical Corps Logistics routinely operates in some of the world’s harshest environments. Personnel are often the first onsite and routinely handle some of the most complex logistical challenges found in the world today - whether it’s airlifting ambulances onto islands in Southeast Asia, setting up a field hospital and sending doctors, nurses and medical equipment into Libya, or transporting clinic construction materials into the jungles of Liberia.

International Medical Corps Logistics serves as the organization’s foundation for launching vital health care programs that relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease, helping devastated populations return to self-reliance.

PREPARE: Pandemic Preparedness Project

International Medical Corps recently completed implementation of a multi-year (40 month) project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) called the PREPARE Project. PREPARE aimed to promote the integration of pandemic preparedness into wider disaster management and preparedness initiatives. Through PREPARE, International Medical Corps worked to strengthen the capacity of low-resourced countries in Africa and Asia for multisector disaster management and pandemic preparedness planning.

International Medical Corps strengthened the capacities of host countries through PREPARE’s “whole- of-society” approach, with involvement from all sectors of society. PREPARE built on previously funded USAID programs to improve broader pandemic and disaster preparedness through simulation and training exercises to develop collaboration throughout the civil sector, private sector and the government.

Whole-of-Society Approach
Using our nearly 30 years of experience of building relationships with groups and individuals at all levels of government and society, International Medical Corps led PREPARE in using the “whole-of-society” pandemic preparedness approach with significant roles played by all sectors of society:

  • As the national civilian government is the natural leader for communication and overall coordination efforts, this entity should work to institute the necessary legislation, policies and resources for pandemic preparedness, capacity development and anticipated response efforts across all sectors.
  • The health sector (including public health and health care services) should provide critical epidemiological and clinical information which, in turn, informs measures to reduce the spread of pandemics and its attendant morbidity and mortality.
  • The diverse array of non-health sectors should provide essential continuity of operations and services during a pandemic to mitigate health, economic and social impacts.
  • Civil society organizations should use their reach to raise awareness, communicate accurate information, counter rumors, provide needed services to communities, and liaise with the government during an emergency.
  • Families and individuals should help improve family and community resilience by providing appropriate self-help preparatory measures and health-seeking and preventive behavior to reduce the spread of pandemics through the adoption of good hygiene measures.

RESOURCES

Emergency Response Capabilities Statement

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Our work with the Pandemic Preparedness Project

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Logistics Capabilities Statement

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