Tony Simpson, PA-C, is part of our Spectrum Orthopaedics Team, based in our Norway office, and has worked with us for 15 years. Tony has also been a member of New Hampshire 1, a Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) for over 16 years.
DMATs are part of the Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System. They provide high-quality, rapid-response medical care when public health and medical emergencies overwhelm state or local resources. In the aftermath of natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and during disease outbreaks, DMATs also serve behind-the-scenes to provide medical supports at national security events such as the Presidential Inauguration, the Washington, DC July 4th celebrations, and the United Nations meetings.
New Hampshire 1 includes physicians, physician assistants, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, logistics specialists, information technologists, safety specialists, and communications specialists from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Tony describes it as a close-knit team that knows one another well and works as a well-oiled machine when on a mission. Tony is the training officer for New Hampshire1, and in this role he helps keep the team ready to respond to any need. Tony refers to DMATs as one of the best-kept secrets within the government – “it would be a zoo if everyone just showed up to help in a disaster.” DMATs provide the necessary structure and framework to ensure help is delivered where, when, and how it is needed from triage to general emergency medical care, hospital decompression, and mass prophylaxis.
In March 2020, New Hampshire 1 was deployed to Oakland, California, where team members were responsible for taking passengers off cruise ships and safely relocating them to a COVID-19 quarantine facility they established on a local air force base. They also tended to the medical needs for over 1,000 passengers. Then, they were deployed to large COVID-19 treatment centers in New York City and Corpus Christi TX, to transform hospital units into additional ICUs – “It was like a war zone,” Tony says. “Almost every floor was an ICU. I’ve never worked so many codes in my life.”
New Hampshire 1 also went to Wyoming to provide additional support for one of the many overwhelmed hospital systems. The team set up the first Monoclonal Antibody infusion sites in Las Vegas. Most recently, they returned to Oakland to manage a mass COVID vaccination site, where they administered up to 10,000 vaccines daily.
Each team is on-call several times throughout the year, and they are deployed for two weeks when they are on mission. Tony initially joined the DMAT as a way to give back. He credits Spectrum’s physicians and leadership and front line staff, as well as his family, for their ongoing support. “Everyone’s way of volunteering is to support all of us who go out into the field. Their work is just as important – they keep things flowing here while we are away.”