NCCTRC and AUSMAT have been on 18 covid-related deployments, internationally and on home soil.
As a result of increased demand for domestic covid response, the NCCTRC has enhanced its capability to support Australian community outbreaks.
In January, the centre established a Rapid Response Team (RRT), a small, rapidly deployable team made up of nurses and allied health professionals whose primary role is to focus on community vaccination drives and testing in response to covid outbreaks.
NCCTRC RRT project manager Rhiannon Winter says the team will expand the organisation’s in-house capability and bolster domestic response.
“We have been really fortunate to have attracted a highly experienced group of clinicians,” she says. “Some are AUSMAT trained and have recent experience in dealing with covid-19, as well as other complementary skill sets.
“AUSMAT have worked tirelessly with back-to-back missions over the past few years.
“Our RRT are able to respond independently or embed within a broader AUSMAT mission. I predict they will become an asset here on home soil.”
The RRT has deployed to Galiwin’ku and Kalkarindji, and provided covid testing support at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre.
The mission to Galiwin’ku was one of the first rapid response deployments and embodied all aspects of how the RRT will be used over the coming year.
Galiwin’ku avoided covid community transmission until early January this year when a case was identified in a health worker and rapidly spread throughout the population.
The RRT was asked to help in providing recommendations on how the community could best respond and manage case numbers.
“When we arrived, there was a hive of activity around the covid-19 testing clinic in the centre of town,” says NCCTRC RRT mission lead Kath McDermott
“It became clear very quickly that the clinical workforce had high demands.”
The team worked alongside NT Health, Miwatj Health Aboriginal Corporation and local welfare authorities to provide assistance with covid response in the community, while also engaging with community elders, clan leaders, Northern Land Council representatives and church leaders to assess the outbreak and community response to lockdowns and health procedures.
Ms McDermott says engagement with stakeholders and community elders is key to the success of all RRT missions.
“It’s their town and their community and they need to be part of the story.”
The senior advisory team provided recommendations about public health measures, vaccination and booster shots, testing and quarantine requirements.
“The senior advisory team were able to deploy promptly after the request from the Northern Territory Government, and provided an assessment, which complemented the work being conducted by local healthcare workers,” Ms Winter says.
She predicts the RRT will continue to respond and assist in times of crisis beyond the covid pandemic, not only within the Northern Territory but around the nation.
“My hope for the RRT is that they will be used for their amazing skillset across a variety of covid-19 related tasks. Overall, the RRT want to make a difference.”