In a sudden emergency, Medical Teams International focuses our efforts on saving lives. With over 40 years of experience delivering emergency medical care in natural and man-made disasters, we are prepared for the challenges disasters pose. Our team of humanitarian emergency experts quickly evaluate situations on the ground to determine how we can best serve survivors in a disaster response. Our goal is to provide life-saving medical care that respects the dignity of the people we serve. Understanding the context of emergencies is vital — no two disasters are alike — and shapes how we move forward.

How we decide to respond

Our decision to respond to disasters is based on three main criteria: need, access, and available resources. First, we assess the need and extent of the emergency. These are the basic facts of any disaster: how many people are affected, how many people died or are at risk of dying, and what the situation on the ground was like before disaster struck. Then, we assess our access to people in the affected communities. Finally, we look at our available resources — both human and financial — and reach out to our network of trusted partners.

A line of refugees carrying yellow water cans wait for supplies to be unloaded out of a truck

How we respond in disasters

Though every disaster is different, we strive for effective, coordinated, and efficient responses. Our actions are dictated in part by how our partner organizations are responding. We are a member of the Integral Alliance. We work closely with other international aid organizations and governmental bodies before moving forward so our efforts aren’t duplicated or unnecessary.

Depending on our evaluation, how we respond might include supporting trusted partner organizations on the ground or sending in our own teams of trained volunteers and experts to deliver life-saving medical care. If the decision to deploy is made, our highly trained teams can be on the ground and setting up clinics within 72 hours of a crisis. Sometimes our flag is planted in front of a makeshift tent or even under a tree. Our medical professionals and volunteers are committed, flexible, and ready to help.

Our conduct in disaster response

In any disaster response we hold ourselves accountable to high-quality humanitarian action standards. We follow both the Core Humanitarian Standards and the Sphere standards. Any action we take honors the value of the people we serve. We see survivors as whole people — physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually — and treat them accordingly.

We prioritize engaging with the local community in every response. We make an effort to collaborate with and understand the culture of the affected communities so that our response is effective and sensitive to the needs of the people we serve.