A Passion for Helping Those in Need
Malteser Hilfsdienst, part of the Order of Malta worldwide relief agency, is one of Germany’s largest humanitarian charities, with over one million members nationwide. In 2020, it will be exhibiting at INTERSCHUTZ for the very first time. For “Stories of INTERSCHUTZ” we spoke about this with Malteser’s head of Disaster Relief and First Aid Services, Markus Bensmann.30 Aug 2019
In 2020, Malteser Hilfsdienst will exhibit at INTERSCHUTZ for the very first time. What prompted your organization to take part?
Malteser is one of several German-based organizations that respond to emergency situations domestically and around the world. INTERSCHUTZ is a major event that brings together these sorts of organizations, so it’s important for us to be part of it, too.
What is your organization’s main objective in participating at INTERSCHUTZ?
We’ll be profiling a selection of our rescue and first aid services and their underpinnings, and we’d be delighted at the opportunity to network with other actors from Germany’s emergency and rescue community over a cup of coffee.
What, in your view, are the key issues and challenges currently facing the rescue services?
The number one challenge is the shortage of suitably skilled professionals and volunteers. Another key challenge, particularly in light of digitalization, is to ensure a standardized, high-quality service nationwide – which is no easy task, considering the great diversity of providers in Germany’s emergency and rescue sector. Similarly, our government’s plans to reform the way emergency medical care is provided will not be without consequences for rescue and ambulance services. For example, longer travel times to hospitals and clinics may pose new challenges for rescue and ambulance services and patient transport.
Same question re disaster relief: What, in your view, are the key challenges?
In the disaster relief sector, the past 30 years have been characterized by very uneven funding across Germany’s various federal states. Overall, there has been a degree of underinvestment, and the states now need to remedy this. Consequently, it is going to be quite a challenge to maintain the capabilities of the various units involved and adapt them to new tasks and scenarios.
What will Malteser Hilfsdienst be showcasing at INTERSCHUTZ?
We will most likely be profiling the use of drones in combination with rescue dogs. Our showcase will also focus on the role of technical support in volunteer recruitment and the new "community-based paramedic care" model.
If you had to name just three things that define Malteser Hilfsdienst, what would they be?
The passion of our people, the interplay between the time-hallowed and the modern, old and young, and, of course, our solid value system.
What sort of international projects does Malteser Hilfsdienst specialize in?
In the overseas countries where we operate, we focus on providing support for the development of healthcare and disaster relief systems and we equip local multipliers will the skills they need in order to train others in a range of specialty areas, including the provision of frontline rescue services.
And last but not least, two questions on the subject of digitalization. First, what opportunities and new approaches do you think may be opened up in your area of work though digital technologies and integration?
Digitally integrated documentation and information systems have the potential to yield improvements in all areas of emergency medical care delivery, from initial emergency phone call to final discharge from hospital. Our emergency crews on the ground will also benefit from digital technologies, such as tele-emergency medicine systems and AI-powered situation analysis tools for disaster responses. I anticipate further improvements through systematic process optimization in all areas of emergency and disaster relief organizations, from ambulance station information systems to automated vehicle fleet management solutions.
And what are the problems and challenges arising in relation to digitalization that will need to be addressed?
For one thing, there needs to be a willingness on the part of all stakeholders to embrace the changes required in order to streamline and optimize processes. This is a significant challenge, given the great diversity of providers in Germany’s emergency rescue and disaster relief sectors, as I mentioned earlier. And then of course we will need to ensure that digitalization does not render critical systems prone to attack.
Malteser Hilfsdienst is a Catholic humanitarian aid organization in the form of a German registered society (e.V.) and non-profit limited liability company (gGmbH). It has a presence in more than 700 towns and cities around Germany. Founded in 1953 by the Sovereign Order of Malta and Caritas Germany, Malteser Hilfsdienst is dedicated to the Christian ideal of helping people in need.
Its workforce is made up predominantly of volunteers and it is structured into dioceses along the lines of the Catholic Church. The organization’s members are engaged in numerous fields, including disaster prevention and relief, ambulance and first aid services, first-responder training and education and volunteer social assistance. Its people also work in hospices, where they provide support to the terminally ill and their families. Malteser Hilfsdienst has a youth division, Malteser Jugend, which brings together some 7,000 children and young people united by a strong social conscience and a love of sport and games. The Malteser family also includes Malteser International, a worldwide agency that provides humanitarian relief after natural disasters and wars and assists with the construction and reconstruction of water supply and healthcare infrastructure.
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