Tamara Bournival with other ERU delegates in the Philippines
Tamara, pictured on the left, with other ERU delegates in the Philippines

Tamara Bournival is among the delegates currently deployed in the Philippines to support the Canadian Red Cross Emergency Response Unit (ERU) field hospital.

Tamara is the perfect person to have in charge of medical logistics on this mission to the Philippines - she literally wrote the book on it. After completing her Red Cross training, she developed the guidelines for medical logistics for the field hospital. This sets out how to organize the inventory of medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, and to monitor their use and be able to predict the field hospital's needs a full month in advance.

The role of the medical logistician is to make sure the clinical team has what it needs, when it needs it. "Because if the medical team can't find what they need when they need it, it's like they didn't have it," she said. This makes Tamara a crucial piece of the puzzle, allowing the rest of the team to provide critical life-saving care.

Tamara started her career as a military pharmacist with the Canadian Forces. She was the first pharmacist on the Forces' Disaster Assistance Response Team. After leaving her military career and working as a community pharmacist for several years, Tamara dropped everything and, with her husband and two young children, travelled the world for a year. While completing her around-the-world trip, she often stopped in on pharmacies in far-flung locations to see how her profession was practiced elsewhere.

"When I returned to Canada, I felt like I had to give back to the communities I had visited," she said. "When I saw the opportunity to join the Red Cross' field hospital team, I knew it was the right fit for me."