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For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.

Missouri continues recruiting for its voluntary disaster medical assistance team.

More than 1,700 medical professionals, including retired workers, had applied to participate in the Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team, also known as MO DMAT-1, as of Tuesday.

In turn, Missouri had reached out to more than 500 applicants to gather more information — and hired 75 members for the team.

The state remains interested in hiring physicians, respiratory therapists, nurses and paramedics, said Caty Eisterhold Luebbert, public information officer for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency.

The workforce includes a significant percentage of retired health care workers, she added.

"Approximately 30 percent of the health care workers who have applied consider themselves retired," Luebbert said. "Qualified individuals who have been hired during this recruitment effort were added to the roster for rotation."

Missouri is taking precautions to protect the workers, who could be among the population most at-risk for serious complications from the coronavirus, she said.

"MO DMAT-1 takes precautionary measures for all team members, not just the retired members that have joined," she said. "They utilize full personal protection equipment during deployments for COVID-19 response to ensure team safety."

Luebbert provided a link to a video of a recent team training on proper personal protective equipment usage, including donning/doffing the equipment while on site.

Local requests for assistance are submitted through the State Emergency Operations Center, she said. Once the state identifies a MO DMAT-1 mission, SEMA determines which medical personnel are needed to properly assist.

So far, the team has been used during the COVID-19 response to augment staffing at Golden Valley Hospital in Clinton and Western Missouri Medical Center in Warrensburg.

If there is a need based on a team member's specialty, SEMA would contact them and explain the deployment details. If that person is unavailable for the specific mission, SEMA works through the roster of team members until appropriate staff are assigned, Luebbert said. The team typically deploys 24-48 hours after the official request is made.

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