A quick primer for setting up and maintaining surgical intensive care in an austere environment: practical tips from volunteers in a mass disaster

University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
American journal of disaster medicine 07/2012; 7(3):223-9. DOI: 10.5055/ajdm.2012.0097
Source: PubMed


The provision of critical care in any environment is resource intensive. However, the provision of critical care in an austere environment/mass disaster zone is particularly challenging. While providers are well trained for care in a modern intensive care unit, they may be under-prepared for resource-poor environments where there are limited or unfamiliar equipment and fewer support personnel. Based primarily on our experiences at a field hospital in Haiti, we created a short guide to critical care in a mass disaster in an austere environment. This guide will be useful to the team of physicians, nurses, respiratory care, logistics, and other support personnel who volunteer in future critical care relief efforts in limited resource settings.

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    ABSTRACT: Background: Planning for mass critical care in resource-poor and constrained settings has been largely ignored, despite large, densely crowded populations who are prone to suffer disproportionately from natural disasters. As a result, disaster response has been suboptimal and in many instances hampered by lack of planning, education and training, information, and communication. Methods: The Resource-Poor Settings panel developed five key question domains; defining the term resource poor and using the traditional phases of the disaster cycle (mitigation/preparedness/response/recovery). Literature searches were conducted to identify evidence to answer the key questions in these areas. Given a lack of data on which to develop evidence-based recommendations, expert-opinion suggestions were developed, and consensus was achieved using a modified Delphi process. Results: The five key questions were as follows: definition, capacity building and mitigation, what resources can we bring to bear to assist/surge, response, and reconstitution and recovery of host nation critical care capabilities. Addressing these led the panel to offer 33 suggestions. Because of the large number of suggestions, the results have been separated into two sections: part I, Infrastructure/Capacity in the accompanying article, and part II, Response/Recovery/Research in this article. Conclusions: A lack of rudimentary ICU resources and capacity to enhance services plagues resource-poor or constrained settings. Capacity building therefore entails preventative strategies and strengthening of primary health services. Assistance from other countries and organizations is often needed to mount a surge response. Moreover, the disengagement of these responding groups and host country recovery require active planning. Future improvements in all phases require active research activities.
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