SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — NATO leaders are working with a telemedicine hub in southeast South Dakota to develop a multinational system that could deliver medical services remotely during natural or manmade disasters.
Representatives from NATO nations, including Romania, the United Kingdom and the U.S., are visiting Avera Health’s telemedicine center in Sioux Falls this week to look at the technology and equipment options available to provide health care services from distant locations. The goal of the NATO-funded research project is to increase survival rates in emergency situations, when immediate access to medical specialists is not always possible.
“This project is aiming at the creation of the multinational capacity in responding to major situations, disasters, civil emergencies, in countries where we would send our teams and they may need to consult experienced physicians at the distant from where they are,” said Romanian interior ministry official Dr. Raed Arafat, who is the NATO director for the project.
The team working on the project has been gathering for more than a year, and their visit to South Dakota marks their first meeting in the U.S. Those gathered in Sioux Falls on Monday saw equipment demonstrations from various health care technology companies.
“Right now when there’s a disaster most countries will send some sort of aid; United States sends teams, Romania sends teams,” said Dr. Donald Kosiak, medical director for Avera’s telemedicine services and who is involved with the NATO project. “What we are trying to say is when you send those teams could we embed telemedicine into those teams? Those teams can then use that technology to reach back to not only experts in their own country but experts around the globe.”