Organizational history

Medical Teams International was founded as Northwest Medical Teams in 1979 by Ron Post, a businessman with no medical training. Like many Americans, his heart was touched watching televised reports of thousands of Cambodians crossing the border into Thailand to escape the Khmer Rouge. Less than a month later, Ron led a group of 28 medical volunteers to care for the survivors of Cambodia's killing fields.

Medical Teams International Historical Timeline

  • 1979 - Northwest Medical Teams International is born. Ron Post takes a team of health care professionals to assist Cambodian refugees escaping the Khmer Rouge in Thailand.
  • 1987 - First field office opens in Mexico, paving the way for our first development project.
  • 1988 - Hurricane Gilbert strikes Jamaica and causes $4 billion in damages. Approximately 75 percent of all health care facilities are completely destroyed. Northwest Medical Teams sends medical and construction volunteers to help the country rebuild.
  • 1991 - Northwest Medical Teams sends medical volunteers to save the lives of Kurdish refugees and also began the first veterinary service in Northern Iraq using Kurdish veterinarians. Thousands of livestock are saved from disease.
  • 1997 - 500th volunteer team travels to Mexico to perform plastic surgery. The 1000th team departs just six years later to provide dental care in Honduras.
  • 1998 - Northwest Medical Teams begins its first community health project in Honduras.
  • 2000 - Northwest Medical Teams launches its first HIV and AIDS project in Honduras.
  • 2001 - Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program begins. The first full-time EMS staff member travels to NYC to respond to the 9/11 tragedy in the same week.
  • 2003 - Community health education and specialty medical training in Iraq begins, first rehabilitation therapy team travels to Moldova.
  • 2004 - Northwest Medical Teams responds to the tsunami in East Asia with 149 volunteers.
  • 2006 - President of Liberia inaugurated our USAID-funded Child Survival Program.
  • 2007 - Name changes to Medical Teams International; organization reaches $1 billion mark in humanitarian aid shipped; Gates Foundation awards grant for health programs in northern Uganda.
  • 2008 - Eight representatives from Medical Teams International, including President Bas Vanderzalm, honored by the President of the United States at a special recognition on the south lawn of the White House.
  • 2009 - The U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) awarded grant to Medical Teams International so it can continue its lifesaving care of Congolese refugees inside Uganda.
  • 2010 - Medical Teams International responded to the 7.0 magnitude earthquake which struck Haiti on January 12.
  • 2011 - Five bases

Question for Reflection

When was the first time you really paid attention to a disaster somewhere in the world? What about that particular event caught your attention? How did you feel? How did you respond?