Sudden-onset disaster response

Supplies being delivered following the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, Philippines in 2013

A sudden-onset disaster is triggered by a hazardous event that emerges quickly or unexpectedly. They take many forms – from earthquakes, tsunamis or hurricanes. They all take lives, separate families and devastate communities. When they hit, local healthcare services can be overwhelmed and so governments will put the call out for emergency medical assistance. We’re part of the team ready to respond on behalf of the UK government.

We are core partners of the UK Government’s Emergency Medical Team (UK EMT), the front line of the UK’s response to a humanitarian crisis overseas, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID). In these life and death situations, it is vital that the teams that respond are well trained and self-sufficient with the skills and equipment to respond effectively rather impose a burden on the national system.

The EMT network is a globally coordinated and verified response system driven by the World Health Organisation (WHO).  Any doctor, nurse or paramedic team coming from another country to practice healthcare in an emergency needs to come as a member of a team. The UK EMT was officially verified by the WHO to respond with a Type 1 (Fixed) or Type 2 field hospital in December 2016. You can read more about our UK Emergency Team partners here.

Drawing from our membership, we recruit and train the clinicians that make up the UK EMT. Each year we rotate six teams of 60 clinicians who are on-call for a period of two months – ready to deploy within 24 hour’s notice.

UK Aid logo



Take a look at this video about the UK Emergency Medical Team or take a tour around a field hospital: