Requirements for NZMAT members

Those applying to become a member of NZMAT must:

  • have the appropriate qualification for the position they are applying for
  • be a New Zealand citizen or hold New Zealand permanent residency and be eligible for employment within New Zealand
  • maintain a passport with at least six months’ validity for international deployments (if intending to deploy overseas)
  • be available for deployment for a minimum of 7 days for a domestic event and 14 days for a Pacific event
  • obtain and maintain vaccinations as listed below, at their own expense
  • have in-principle approval from their employer to join NZMAT, subject to the employer’s operating requirements at the time of deployment
  • adhere to the code of conduct and all procedures and policies relating to the emergency response
  • agree to maintain any personal gear or uniform in accordance with team specifications.

Experience is preferred (but not necessary) in the following areas:

  • Coordinated Incident Management System training or equivalent
  • previous deployment experience
  • previous disaster-related training (eg, AusMAT course)
  • senior clinician in area of expertise.

Vaccinations

All team members must confirm that they are up to date with these vaccinations:

  • tetanus/DPT
  • seasonal influenza
  • typhoid
  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B.

Japanese encephalitis vaccination may be required for deployments to Papua New Guinea. Any requirement for this will be decided by a risk analysis at the time.

Rabies is present in Papua New Guinea, but pre-exposure vaccination is not necessary as vaccination can be provided after exposure.

Physical functional standards

Those applying for NZMAT service must meet the following physical functional standards.

  • They should be physically and mentally able to safely perform the usual acts of daily living without requiring direct assistance of other individuals or elaborate mechanical devices.
  • They must be capable of independently travelling safely to and from a duty station by private or public transport.
  • They should not be severely limited in musculoskeletal mobility or exercise tolerance, regardless of the physical requirements of the projected assignment. Ordinary physical activity should not cause undue fatigue, shortness of breath, pronounced muscular weakness, or severe or ominous pain.
  • They must not require medication or medical devices to be able to perform their duties unless the following criteria are substantially met:
    • after an adequate period of observation, the medication or device adequately controls the underlying medical problem
    • frequent medical attention is not necessary
    • the disease or disability will not require frequent or prolonged periods of absence from duties
    • failure to take the medication, the side effects of the medication, or failure of the mechanical device is not likely to create a situation that could endanger the lives of others
    • they have not been hospitalised within the last 12 months for the medical condition
    • they are not immunocompromised.
  • Pregnancy may not necessarily exclude participation. However, airline policies regarding pregnancy will be followed for NZMAT members being flown to their assignment. Pregnancy will prevent a team member from working in a difficult environment where food sources may not always be guaranteed safe for pregnancy or the duties require heavy lifting. Pregnant team members will require a current evaluation from a physician stating expected date of delivery, that there are no current or past pregnancy complications and that there is no restriction in the types of duties or the geographic location of the assignment. A disclaimer must be signed before deployment on any mission.

Personal skills and temperament

NZMAT team members need to have certain personal skills to ensure that they are able to cope with the exacting challenges of a major emergency deployment. The abilities and personality characteristics required include:

  • working in adverse circumstances, possibly during long shifts, without access to the usual range of health resources available in New Zealand
  • being flexible to meet the demands of the affected area
  • accepting basic living conditions and potentially damaged communications and infrastructure
  • ability to work in other cultural environments, adjusting to different cultural norms
  • coping with exposure to a traumatised population when many needs cannot be met
  • working within a command and control structure, and following directions given by the NZMAT Team Leader or their delegates for the health response (eg, shift hours, reporting requirements)
  • being able to work with multidisciplinary and multicultural teams from different professional backgrounds
  • accepting that their role is to support health services in the affected area and not take over services or work completely independently unless requested by the affected health authority and NZMAT Team Leader
  • performing duties and responsibilities other than the ones initially indicated if required: adaptability
  • able to take the initiative to find innovative solutions to the provision of services, taking advantage of the resources available at the time
  • accepting that it may be impossible to communicate with family and their normal workplace(s) during the first days of deployment.
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