NATO is an intergovernmental military alliance whose essential purpose is to safeguard the freedom and security of its 28 member countries through political and military means.
NATO takes an active role in a broad range of global crisis-management operations and missions, including civil emergency operations. Approximately 18,000 military personnel are engaged in NATO missions around the world, including helping in the response to the refugee and migrant crisis in Europe and supporting the African Union (AU) in its peacekeeping missions on the African continent.
NATO also carries out disaster relief operations and missions to protect populations against natural, technological or humanitarian disasters. As such they developed a telemedicine system that could be used both the military and civilian paramedics in areas where urgent medical attention is required.
The NATO telemedicine project was initially launched in 2013 and was led by scientists and experts from NATO Allies Romania and the US and partner countries Finland, Moldova and Ukraine.
Allies and partners provided advanced equipment, such as kits for connectivity and solar panels, as well as training for experts. NATO’s Communications and Information Agency (NCIA) provided expertise on communications technologies.
Through the telemedicine system remote medical specialists can assess patients, diagnose them and provide real-time recommendations. Portable medical kits allow first responders at the scene to connect to the system, receiving expert advice from medical specialists.
“In the event of a disaster, telemedicine helps eliminate distance barriers and improves access to medical services that would often not be available on the ground, even in remote areas,” said NATO Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges, Sorin Ducaru.
The system has the potential to save countless lives in disasters by ensuring the right aid and care is provided to those who need it urgently.