Emergency Response Protocols for Overseas Outreach Settings: Global Smile Foundation Strategy
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) aim to alleviate unmet global disease burden and promote collaboration between visiting and host countries. Well-executed emergency response protocols are foundational to providing safe and quality care in an unpredictable global setting. Global Smile Foundation (GSF) instituted a protocol in 2012 based on over three decades of cleft care experience. Here, we update this protocol and provide information on how to address special circumstances such as humanitarian crises and disease outbreaks. The GSF response protocol was developed in conjunction with surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, and administrators to ensure all team members are adequately prepared to respond to emergency situations in global outreach. This protocol provides information on pre-departure preparation, onsite setup, operative precautions, and post-departure debriefings. Emphasis is placed on a standardized, reproducible workflow that accounts for necessary site-specific adjustments. Strategies include emergency simulations, site-specific safety checklists, standardized operating room protocols, and well-defined individual responsibilities. The authors also provide anticipatory guidance in addressing unexpected circumstances, such as disease outbreak and natural disaster, during global outreach. In conclusion, a proactive and systematic approach to emergency response and prevention is vital to minimizing morbidity and mortality during surgical outreach initiatives. The GSF protocol represents a reproducible approach that other organizations can adopt and adapt to their unique needs.