Prehospital and disaster medicine: the official journal of the National Association of EMS Physicians and the World Association for Emergency and Disaster Medicine in association with the Acute Care Foundation

Published by Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Online ISSN: 1945-1938
Print ISSN: 1049-023X
Presented at the 8th World Congress on Emergency and Disaster Medicine, Stockholm, Sweden, June 1993. Translated from the original from a transcript of a speech to the General Assembly of the World Congress for Emergency and Disaster Medicine (WCEDM) in Stockholm. © 1994, World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine. All rights reserved.
A sudden and extensive power failure occurred at Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge on Easter Saturday, 07 April 2007. The power failure lasted one hour and 22 minutes, but it took a longer time for activities to return to normal. It put many patients at great risk, particularly in the intensive care unit and other departments with critically ill patients. This report details the conditions and response at Karolinska University Hospital during the power failure and provides lessons learned for future events.
On 07 July 2005, four bombs were detonated in London, killing 52 members of the public. Approximately 700 individuals received treatment either at the scene or at nearby hospitals. HYPOTHESIS/PROBLEM: Significant concerns about the potential long-term psychological and physical health effects of exposure to the explosions were raised immediately after the bombings. To address these concerns, a public health register was established for the purpose of following-up with individuals exposed to the explosions. Invitations to enroll in the register were sent to individuals exposed to the explosions. A range of health, emergency, and humanitarian service records relating to the response to the explosions were used to identify eligible individuals. Follow-up was undertaken through self-administered questionnaires. The number of patients exposed to fumes, smoke, dust, and who experienced blood splashes, individuals who reported injuries, and the type and duration of health symptoms were calculated. Odds ratios of health symptoms by exposure for greater or less than 30 minutes were calculated. A total of 784 eligible individuals were identified, of whom, 258 (33%) agreed to participate in the register, and 173 (22%) returned completed questionnaires between 8 to 23 months after the explosions. The majority of individuals reported exposure to fumes, smoke, or dust, while more than two-fifths also reported exposure to blood. In addition to cuts and puncture wounds, the most frequent injury was ear damage. Most individuals experienced health symptoms for less than four weeks, with the exception of hearing problems, which lasted longer. Four-fifths of individuals felt that they had suffered emotional distress and half of them were receiving counseling. The results indicated that the main long-term health effects, apart from those associated with traumatic amputations, were hearing loss and psychological disorders. While these findings provide a degree of reassurance of the absence of long-term effects, the low response rate limits the extent to which this can be extrapolated to all those exposed to the bombings. Given the importance of immediate assessment of the range and type of exposure and injury in incidents such as the London bombings, and the difficulties in contacting individuals after the immediate response phase, there is need to develop better systems for identifying and enrolling exposed individuals into post-incident health monitoring.
The collapsed wing of Hilton Tabba hotel after the suicide bombing 
Chain of transport of injured survivors from the scene and chain of medical personnel transportation to the scene Leiba © 2005 Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 
Large-scale, terrorist attacks can happen in peripheral areas, which are located close to a country's borders and far from its main medical facilities and involve multi-national casualties and responders. The objective of this study was to analyze the terrorist suicide bombings that occurred on 07 October 2004, near the Israeli-Egyptian border, as representative of such a complex scenario. Data from formal debriefings after the event were processed in order to learn about victim outcomes, resource utilization, critical events, and time course of the emergency response. A total of 185 injured survivors were repatriated: four were severely wounded, 13 were moderately injured, and 168 were mildly injured. Thirty-eight people died. A forward medical team landed at the border town's airport, which provided reinforcement in the field and in the local hospital. Israeli and Egyptian search and rescue teams collaborated at the destruction site. One-hundred sixty-eight injured patients arrived at the small border hospital that rapidly organized itself for the mass-casualty incident, operating as an evacuation "staging hospital". Twenty-three casualties secondarily were distributed to two major trauma centers in the south and the center of Israel, respectively, either by ambulance or by helicopter. Large-scale, terrorist attacks at a peripheral border zone can be handled by international collaboration, reinforcement of medical teams at the site itself and at the peripheral neighboring hospital, rapid rearrangement of an "evacuation hospital", and efficient transport to trauma centers by ambulances, helicopters, and other aircraft.
This is a summary of the presentations and discussion of Session 1.2 of the Conference, Health Aspects of the Tsunami Disaster in Asia, convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Phuket, Thailand, 04-06 May 2005. The topics discussed included issues related national health perspectives as pertaining to the responses to the damage created by the Tsunami. It is presented in the following major sections: (1) key questions; (2) discussion; (3) what was done well?; (4) what could have been done better?; and (5) what can be done to prepare for the future?.
This is a summary of the presentations and discussion of Health Protection and Disease Prevention of the Conference, Health Aspects of the Tsunami Disaster in Asia, convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Phuket, Thailand, 04-06 May 2005. The topics discussed included issues related health protection and disease prevention as pertaining to the responses to the damage created by the Tsunami. It is presented in the following major sections: (1) key questions; (2) national perspectives; (3) an international perspective; (4) laboratory aspects in disease surveillance; and (5) partnership.
This is a summary of the presentations and discussion of Session 1.4, Health Services Delivery: A Critical Review of Experience, of the Conference, Health Aspects of the Tsunami Disaster in Asia, convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Phuket, Thailand, 04-06 May 2005. The topics discussed included issues related to health services delivery as pertaining to the responses to the damage created by the Tsunami. It is presented in the following major sections: (1) needs assessment; (2) coordination; (3) filling of gaps; (4) capacity building; and (5) lessons learned.
This is a summary of the presentations and discussion of Session 1.5 on Health Policy and Coordination: A Critical Review of Experiences during the Conference, Health Aspects of the Tsunami Disaster in Asia, convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) in Phuket, Thailand, 04-06 May 2005. The topics discussed included issues related to health policy and coordination as pertain to the responses to the damage created by the Tsunami. Key questions were answered in this session, and recommendations were made.
A disaster manager must be able to evaluate staff members in order to make effective staffing decisions during the transitions between phases of a disaster and to help improve the performance of the operation by determining what aspects of an individual's work needs improvement. Criteria for personnel appraisal and measures of performance, objective or subjective, are essential to conduct a fair and thorough evaluation. Errors introduce bias into the appraisal in the form of a "halo" effect, harsh or lenient ratings, a central tendency error, or recency effect, but recognition of these errors helps reduce their effect. A results-based appraisal program is favored because it focuses on what the worker achieves. Regular appraisal periods are suggested for optimal improvement in performance. Suggestions are given for an effective personnel appraisal, such as focusing on positive work performance, being aware of biases in judging people, and being specific when citing examples of work performance.
On 11 September 2001, two hijacked airplanes collided with the World Trade Center in New York. Both towers collapsed, spreading smoke and debris for miles. Rescue personnel arrived rapidly, but the collapse of the towers made the scene too dangerous for these teams to rescue all those trapped inside. Although this collapse was impossible to predict, fires occurring in skyscrapers can cause the structures to collapse. When a fire erupts in the upper levels of the building, it is even more difficult for those trapped inside to escape. Communications systems were shut down. In future incidents with large numbers of injured victims, the injured should be transported to hospitals by non-traditional medical transport vehicles (taxis, cars, etc.). If future disasters occur in the vicinity of a hospital, the most severely injured victims should go to the hospital instead of congregating at assembly points. These victims often are already at hospitals before substantial aid arrives at the assembly points. On-scene care must be documented, and easy-to-read triage tags should be used. Reserve power supplies in major cities should be maintained in preparation for emergencies. Both victims and rescue personnel are susceptible to post-traumatic, psychosocial reactions.
A large number of firefighters retired after 11 September 2001. These retirees were confronted with multiple challenges, including grief, trauma-related physical injuries and psychological distress, difficulties related to the transition of their roles, and deterioration of social support. The Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Counseling Service Unit's "Stay Connected" Program designed and implemented after 11 September 2001 is described in this report. This unique program was designed to use a combination of peer outreach and professional counseling to address the mental health needs of retiring firefighters and their families. Descriptive information about the intervention program was gathered through semi-structured interviews with Counseling Service Unit staff. Client satisfaction surveys were collected during three six-week periods. Quantitative data indicate that clients rated their overall satisfaction with the clerical and counseling staff a perfect 4 out of 4. The report of their overall satisfaction with the services also was nearly at ceiling (3.99 out 4). The perceived helpfulness of the services in resolving the problems experienced by the clients increased significantly over time. Qualitative data indicate that peer involvement and intensive community outreach, i.e., social events, wellness activities, and classes, were integral to the success of the intervention. This project provided valuable lessons about how to develop and implement a "culturally competent"intervention program for public safety workers retiring after a disaster. Creative, proactive, non-traditional outreach efforts and leveraging peers for credibility and support were particularly important.
Introduction Evacuation of the World Trade Center (WTC) twin towers and surrounding buildings damaged in the September 11, 2001 attacks provides a unique opportunity to study factors that affect emergency evacuation of high rise buildings. Problem The goal of this study is to understand the extent to which structural and behavioral barriers and limitations of personal mobility affected evacuation by occupants of affected buildings on September 11, 2001. This analysis included 5,023 civilian, adult enrollees within the World Trade Center Health Registry who evacuated the two World Trade Center towers and over 30 other Lower Manhattan buildings that were damaged or destroyed on September 11, 2001. Multinomial logistic regression was used to predict total evacuation time (<30 to ≤60 minutes, >1 hour to <2 hours relative to ≤30 minutes) in relation to number of infrastructure barriers and number of behavioral barriers, adjusted for demographic and other factors. A higher percentage of evacuees reported encountering at least one behavioral barrier (84.9%) than reported at least one infrastructure barrier (51.9%). This pattern was consistent in all buildings except WTC 1, the first building attacked, where >90% of evacuees reported encountering both types of barriers. Smoke and poor lighting were the most frequently-reported structural barriers. Extreme crowding, lack of communication with officials, and being surrounded by panicked crowds were the most frequently-reported behavioral barriers. Multivariate analyses showed evacuation time to be independently associated with the number of each type of barrier as well as gender (longer times for women), but not with the floor from which evacuation began. After adjustment, personal mobility impairment was not associated with increased evacuation time. Because most high-rise buildings have unique designs, infrastructure factors tend to be less predictable than behavioral factors, but both need to be considered in developing emergency evacuation plans in order to decrease evacuation time and, consequently, risk of injury and death during an emergency evacuation. Groeger JL , Stellman SD , Kravitt A , Brackbill RM . Evacuating damaged and destroyed buildings on 9/11: behavioral and structural barriers. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(6):1-11.
Categorization of traumatic brain injury (TBI) cases resulting from the 11 September 2001 World Trade Center attacks *Includes two cases with an ICD-9-CM code of 959.01 Rutland-Brown © 2007 Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 
Definition of terms used in traumatic brain injury (TBI) adjudication process (ICD-9-CM = International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification) Rutland-Brown © 2007 Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 
The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries. Research on previous bombings and explosions has shown that head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), are among the most common injuries. The objective of this study was to identify diagnosed and undiagnosed (undetected) TBIs among persons hospitalized in New York City following the 11 September 2001 WTC attacks. The medical records of persons admitted to 36 hospitals in New York City with injuries or illnesses related to the WTC attacks were abstracted for signs and symptoms of TBIs. Diagnosed TBIs were identified using the International Classification of Diseases, 9th Revision, Clinical Modification diagnosis codes. Undiagnosed TBIs were identified by an adjudication team of TBI experts that reviewed the abstracted medical record information. Persons with an undiagnosed TBI were contacted and informed of the diagnosis of potential undetected injury. A total of 282 records were abstracted. Fourteen cases of diagnosed TBIs and 21 cases of undiagnosed TBIs were identified for a total of 35 TBI cases (12% of all of the abstracted records). The leading cause of TBI was being hit by falling debris (22 cases). One-third of the TBIs (13 cases) occurred among rescue workers. More than three years after the event, four out of six persons (66.67%) with an undiagnosed TBI who were contacted reported they currently were experiencing symptoms consistent with a TBI. Not all of the TBIs among hospitalized survivors of the WTC attacks were diagnosed at the time of acute injury care. Some persons with undiagnosed TBIs reported problems that may have resulted from these TBIs three years after the event. For hospitalized survivors of mass-casualty incidents, additional in-hospital, clinical surveys could help improve pre-discharge TBI diagnosis and provide the opportunity to link patients to appropriate outpatient services. The use and adequacy of head protection for rescue workers deserves re-evaluation.
Widely accepted guidelines for use of pharmacologic agents for prehospital intubation have not been fully developed. Toward the goal of formulating specific guidelines, this study sought to determine how well the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score stratifies the need for emergent intubation (within 30 minutes of emergency department arrival or in the prehospital setting). A one-year, retrospective review of the charts of blunt trauma patients with presumed head injury who presented to the emergency department of a Level 1 trauma center with a GCS score of less than or equal to 13 was performed. A total of 120 patients met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. A significant number of patients presenting with a GCS score of less than or equal to 9 required emergent intubation. A significant minority of patients presenting with a GCS score of 10-13 required emergent intubation (20%) or had intracranial pathology on head CT scan (23%), and the majority of patients from this subgroup did not require subsequent intubation. Alcohol or substance intoxication and communication barriers such as deafness and language difficulties limited the clinical examination. Patients with a presenting GCS score of less than or equal to 9 represent candidates for the use of pharmacologic agents to facilitate aggressive airway control by well-trained and supervised emergency medical technicians (EMTs). Emergent intubation of patients with a GCS score of 10-13 is problematic. Patients with a presenting GCS score of 10-13 must be evaluated individually and closely monitored.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Change in any organization is difficult. Relief organizations constantly are evolving and changing form to adapt to different needs, demands, and environment. As the phases of a disaster evolve, adjustments must be made by relief organizations to meet the changing needs. The sequential processes used to manage change include recognition and diagnosis of the problem, identification of alternatives, recognition of limiting conditions, selection of a strategy for change, and implementing and monitoring the change. The techniques used to effect change may be classified as structural, management, or technological. Changes can occur in division of labor, content of the work, relationships with other workers, supervisory and/or technical skills, operations, and decision-making hierarchy. Approaches can be mandated from the top, worked out jointly by management and personnel, or implemented by the affected personnel. Implementation of changes has two dimensions: timing and scope. Whenever changes are implemented, the impact of the changes must be monitored and the effects compared with what was expected.
This lesson examines mechanisms that can be used for the evaluation of a program or project. The principal concern raised is whether the project has met its stated goals and objectives and whether the project has resulted in producing benefits to the affected society. Short-term (immediate) and long-term (developmental) contributions are discussed. The importance of projects contributing to increasing the absorbing capacity of the affected community for the next event is stressed. Twelve problems commonly encountered in program execution are defined. Optimal management attempts to identify potential pitfalls in advance, designing and implementing mechanisms to avoid them, and to deal with them if they should become manifest. Simply meeting the goals and objectives of the sponsoring organization is inadequate, as all responses must be coordinated and approved by the national coordinating agency. Thus, not only is the effectiveness of the project in meeting the defined goals and objectives important, but the project must be assessed in terms of the overall impact of the project on the society. Reference is made to using the structure provided by the Health Disaster Management: Guidelines for Evaluation and Research in the Utstein Style as promulgated by the Task Force on Quality Control of the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine and the Nordic Society of Disaster Medicine.
In response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC), the United States Public Health Service (USPHS) deployed Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) and the Commissioned Corps to provide on-site, primary medical care to anyone who presented. Patients included rescue and recovery workers, other responders, and some members of the general public. A descriptive analysis of WTC-USPHS patient records was conducted in order to better understand the short-term impact of the WTC site on the safety and health of individuals who were at or near the site from 14 September-20 November 2001. The Patient Treatment Record forms that were completed for each patient visit to these USPHS stations over the 10-week deployment period were reviewed. Results: Patient visits numbered 9,349, with visits peaking during Week 2 (21-27 September). More than one-quarter of the visits were due to traumatic injuries not including eye injuries (n = 2,716; 29%). Respiratory problems comprised more than one-fifth of the complaints (n = 2,011; 22%). Eye problems were the third most frequent complaint (n = 1,120; 12%). With respect to the triage class, the majority of visits fell into the lowest category of severity (n = 6,237; 67%). USPHS visits probably were skewed to milder complaints when compared to analyses of employer medical department reports or hospital cases; however, given the close proximity of the USPHS stations to the damage, analysis of the USPHS forms provides a more complete picture of the safety and health impact on those who were at or near the WTC site.
QuikClot® Combat Gauze™ 
Protocal for use of QuickClot Combat gauze (hemostatic dressing) *Direct pressure with personal bandage 
Standard gauze field dressings and direct pressure occasionally are inadequate for the control of hemorrhage. QuikClot® Combat Gauze™ (QCG) combines surgical gauze with an inorganic material and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and by the Israeli Standards Institute for external hemorrhage control. The purpose of this article is to report clinical use of this dressing during Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza strip during January 2009. QuikClot Combat Gauze and the QCG guidelines were issued to advanced life support (ALS) providers during the preparations for the Operation. All cases of injuries involving hemorrhage were reviewed, as well as interviews with the ALS providers (physicians and paramedics) and injured soldiers. Fourteen uses of QCG were reported and reviewed (out of a total of 56 hemostatic interventions in 35 cases). Dressings were applied to injuries to the head, neck, axilla, buttocks, abdomen, back, and pelvis in 10 cases, and to extremities in four cases. In 13 cases (93%), injuries were caused by blast or gunshot mechanisms. The success rate was reported as 79% (11/14). Failure to control hemorrhage was reported in three cases in three different locations: neck, buttock, and thigh. All failures were attributed to severe soft tissue and vascular injuries. No complications or adverse events were reported. This report on the clinical field use of the QCG dressing by ALS providers suggests that it is an effective and safe product, and applicable for prehospital treatment of combat casualties. This report further suggests that QCG should be issued to medics as well as ALS providers. Larger clinical investigations are needed to confirm these findings.
This report describes the case of an 18-year-old woman who was found in the sea suffering from cardiac arrest and hypothermia, 90 minutes after she entered the water to swim. The rescue team used an automated external defibrillator to record prehospital management. This recording showed an isoelectric electrocardiogram followed by a ventricular fibrillation, an unsuccessful defibrillation, and lastly, a return of spontaneous circulation with Osborn wave. When she was admitted to the intensive care unit two hours later, the woman's central temperature was 28°C.The case is interesting because of several points. First, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the only case of cardiac arrest with severe hypothermia followed by a return of spontaneous circulation documented with an automated external defibrillator recording. Second, the hypothermia is an atypical case occurring in the summer. Hypothermia must be considered even in unlikely circumstances, such as summer in the south of France, when ambient temperatures are high. Lastly, after three days, the patient recovered successfully from cardiopulmonary arrest without cerebral dysfunction. P-G Claret, X Bobbia, G Dingemans, O Onde, M Sebbane, J-E de La Coussaye. Drowning, hypothermia and cardiac arrest: an 18-year-old woman with an automated external defibrillator recording. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013;28(5):1-3 .
The 18th World Congress on Disaster and Emergency Medicine - Volume 28 Issue 5 - Samuel J. Stratton
Purpose: To describe the situation with respect to nursing care conducted immediately before and after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945. Methods: Nurses who were registered nursing staff in Nagasaki at the time of the bombing volunteered to participate in this research. Individual interviews were conducted to obtain information concerning the nursing activities in affected areas. The collected information was compared with official documents regarding the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and findings of current studies of disaster situation nursing. Result: Five participants indicated that starting on the day of the bombing, nursing care activities changed from moment to moment according to the condition of radiation victims, the condition of affected areas, and the relief systems in place. Under these conditions, nurses attempted to provide nursing care to victims of the bombing through any means possible. Conclusion: The participants in the present study communicated a single message: that nursing care must be flexible in critical situations. Triage and cooperation with other types of medical professionals were also identified as important factors in nursing care.
To investigate the relative distribution of hazards causing hospital evacuations, thereby to provide rudimentary risk information for hospital disaster planning. Cases of hospital evacuations were retrieved from newspaper and publication databases and classified according to hazard type, proximate and original cause, duration, and casualties. Both partial and full evacuations were included. The total number of evacuation incidents for all hazards were compared to the total number of hospital incidents for the one hazard, fire, for which national data is available. There were 275 reported evacuation incidents from 1971-1999, with an annual average of 21 in the 1990s, the period for which databases were more reliable. The most, 33, were recorded in 1994, the year of the Northridge Earthquake. Of all incidents, 63 (23%) were attributable primarily to internal fire, followed by internal hazardous materials (HazMat) events (18%), hurricane (14%), human threat (13%), earthquake (9%), external fire (6%), flood (6%), utility failure (5%), and external HazMat (4%). More than 50% of the hospital evacuations occurred because of hazards originating in the hospital facility itself or from human intruders. While natural disasters were not the preponderant causes of evacuations, they caused severe problems when multiple hospitals in the same urban area were incapacitated simultaneously. Clearly, as hospitals are vulnerable to many hazards, mitigation investments should be assessed not in terms of single-hazard risk-cost-benefit analysis, but in terms of capacity to mitigate multiple hazards. In view of the many qualifications and limitations of the dataset used here, but value of such data for disaster planning, hospitals should be asked to submit standardized incident reports to permit national data gathering on major disruptions.
The potential for disasters exists in all communities. To mitigate the potential catastrophes that confront humanity in the new millennium, an evidence-based approach to disaster management is required urgently. This study moves toward such an evidence-based approach by identifying peer-reviewed publications following a range of disasters and events over the past three decades. Peer-reviewed, event-specific literature was identified using a comprehensive search of the electronically indexed database, MEDLINE (1956-January 2009). An extended comprehensive search was conducted for one event to compare the event-specific literature indexed in MEDLINE to other electronic databases (EMBASE, CINAHL, AMED, CENTRAL, Psych Info, Maternity and Infant Care, EBM Reviews). Following 25 individual disasters or overwhelming crises, a total of 2,098 peer-reviewed, event-specific publications were published in 789 journals (652 publications following disasters/events caused by natural hazards, 966 following human-made/technological disasters/events, and 480 following conflict/complex humanitarian events).The event with the greatest number of peer-reviewed, event-specific publications was the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks (686 publications). Prehospital and Disaster Medicine published the greatest number of peer-reviewed, event-specific publications (54), followed by Journal of Traumatic Stress (42), Military Medicine (40), and Psychiatric Services (40). The primary topics of event-specific publications were mental health, medical health, and response. When an extended, comprehensive search was conducted for one event, 75% of all peer-reviewed, event-specific publications were indexed in MEDLINE. A broad range of multi-disciplinary journals publish peer reviewed, event-specific publications. While the majority of peer-reviewed, event-specific literature is indexed in MEDLINE, comprehensive search strategies should include EMBASE to increase yield.
On 28 March 1982, El Chichon, a volcanic peak located in southern Mexico, began an eruptive phase of activity. Four major eruptions occurred within the next eight days, culminating in a cataclysmic eruption on 4 April. When the dust had settled, an estimated 200 million tons of ash blanketed more than 200 square kilometers of southern Mexico and neighboring Central American countries. Forty thousand villagers were left homeless and several thousand people may have lost their lives. Fifty thousand head of cattle were destroyed outright with many more succumbing to lack of water and pasture. Millions of hectares of crops were destroyed (Figure 1).
Although emergency medical services (EMS) liability litigation is a concern of many prehospital health care providers, there have been no studies of these legal cases nationwide and no local case studies since 1987. A retrospective case series was obtained from a computerized database of trial court cases filed against EMS agencies nationwide. All legal cases that met the inclusion criteria were included in the study sample. These cases must have involved either ambulance collisions (AC) or patient care (PC) incidents, and they must have been closed between 1987 and 1992. There were 76 cases that met the inclusion criteria. Half of these cases involved an AC, and the other cases alleged negligence of a PC encounter. Thirty (78.9%) of the plaintiffs in the AC cases were other motorists, and 35 (92.1%) of the plaintiffs in the PC cases were EMS patients. Almost half of the cases named an individual (usually an emergency medical technician or paramedic) as a codefendant. Thirty-one (40.8%) of the cases were closed without any payment to the plaintiff. There were five cases with plaintiffs' awards or settlements greater than [US] $1 million. Most (71.0%) of the ACs occurred in an intersection or when one vehicle rear-ended another vehicle. The most common negligence allegations in the PC cases were arrival delay, inadequate assessment, inadequate treatment, patient transport delay, and no patient transport. Risk management for EMS requires specific knowledge of the common sources of EMS liability litigation. This sample of recent legal cases provides the common allegations of negligence. REcommendations to decrease the legal risk of EMS agencies and prehospital providers are suggested.
Crashes involving commercial airliners stress emergency medical services (EMS) and rescue operations to performance far in excess of everyday activities, and special adaptations of everyday responses need to be implemented. Fortunately, these events are infrequent and usually do not occur more than once in any location. The responses that occur must be highly coordinated and efficient. Little is known about the responses to such events. This study examines the EMS and rescue responses associated with eight recent crashes involving commercial airliners in the United States. To identify common factors for which alterations in responses may enhance the survival and decrease the morbidity to victims involved in commercial aviation crashes. Eight commercial airliner crashes in the United States from 1987 through 1991. Case review using: 1) press and media accounts; 2) U.S. National Transportation and Safety Board testimony and reports; and 3) structured interviews with airport, fire, EMS, and hospital personnel. Data were collated and common factors identified for the cases. Findings are classified into: 1) conditions at the crash sites; 2) initial responses; 3) scene management; 4) scene status; 5) patient transport; 6) hospital responses; and 7) preplanning exercises. Common factors that impaired responses for which some remediation is possible include: 1) new methods for training including computerized simulations; 2) improvements in rescue-extrication equipment and supplies; 3) stored caches of EMS equipment and supplies at airports; 4) ambulance transport capabilities; and 5) augmentation of patient transport capabilities. Many lessons can be learned through structured studies of commercial aircraft crashes. These findings suggest that simple and relatively inexpensive modifications may enhance all levels of emergency responses to such events.
The outcome of survivors within disaster areas largely depends upon the quick reallocation and operation of logistic and medical support systems. Enthusiastic media equipped with advanced communication systems, reveal mass human suffering in real time. But, the response period required for the organization of rescue systems is much slower and is most frustrating. In this article, we present our experience in quick deployment and operation of airborne field hospitals gained following the earthquake disaster in Armenia in 1988 and the civil war in Rwanda in 1994. Deployment of improvised, volunteer-based, military field hospitals was feasible within 24 hours after the decision was made. A multi-disciplinary structure enabled an effective, flexible mode of operation and reduced the dependency on meticulous, time-consuming assessments of requirements prior to deployment. These missions are a paradigm for the successful incorporation and integration within the capabilities of military infrastructure of volunteer professionals drafted from civil medical facilities. Such field hospitals could provide backup for primary care medical systems in disaster areas and substitute or take some pressure off of local hospitals, particularly when evacuation systems are insufficient.
To use the clinical activities of an ambulance service as a tool to assess the residual and unmet medical needs of a city in the aftermath of a major earthquake and to apply that assessment to the development of a training curriculum for the prehospital personnel. The researchers conducted structured interviews with health care workers at all levels of the emergency health care delivery system in Gyumrii, Armenia, and carried out a retrospective frequency analysis of 29,010 ambulance runs for an 11-month period from February through December 1992. Runs first were assigned into the broad categories of: 1) Adult Medical; 2) Pediatric Medical; or 3) Trauma, and then, according to diagnosis. The runs then were classified further as: 1) Primary Care; 2) Basic Life Support (BLS); or 3) Advanced Life Support (ALS). Adult Medical calls represented 24,684 (85%), Pediatric Medical calls 459 (1.6%), and Trauma calls 3,867 (13%). Only 12% of all ambulance calls resulted in transport to a medical facility, although this percentage was higher in children. Thirty percent of Adult Medical patients were diagnosed by the emergency medical providers as having exclusively a psychiatric problem. In the late aftermath of a devastating earthquake, the ambulance service in Gyumrii, Armenia has been delivering a substantial proportion of non-emergency, primary care services. They have adopted this unconventional role to compensate for the deficit in health care facilities and personnel created by the disaster. The training program that the investigators developed reflected the actual work activities of the prehospital personnel demonstrated in their assessment.
The role of the base-hospital and on-line medical control in a disaster has not been investigated previously. This study assesses the roles of base-hospitals and the value and feasibility of on-line medical control during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The researchers studied five Bay Area counties most affected by the earthquake: San Francisco, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz. Researchers sent questionnaires to all 1,498 registered EMTs and paramedics in these counties; 620 were returned (41.4%). Respondents answered questions about activities performed, contacts with base-hospitals and other agencies, and problems encountered the night of the earthquake. Researchers selected 63 paramedics for in-depth interviews based on their performance of significant advanced life support (ALS) activities performed during the disaster. The coordinators of the 13 base-hospitals (BHCs) in the region also received and returned questionnaires about medical control, base-hospital roles during the disaster, and problems encountered. Researchers interviewed all five county emergency medical services (EMS) agency directors. The surveys of EMS directors, base-hospital coordinators, and paramedics indicate that confusion existed over the status of medical control after the earthquake. There was general agreement among base-hospital coordinators (BHCs) that suspension of medical control is appropriate in a major disaster. Three bases had appropriate equipment to function as back-up dispatch centers. Eight bases had adequate personnel, but only one BHC felt his personnel had adequate training to function in a dispatch capacity. Nine paramedics did not start or continue resuscitation on patients whom they ordinarily would have begun resuscitation. Emergency medical services should suspend medical control immediately following a major disaster and ensure that all prehospital and base personnel are notified. Disrupted communications protocols for prehospital personnel should reflect the skill and knowledge level of paramedics and the need for rapid, advanced practice in a disaster. Disaster planners should consider other roles for base hospitals in major disasters.
To study hospital disaster operations following a major United States disaster. Researchers interviewed all 51 hospital administrators and 49 of 51 emergency department (ED) charge nurses and emergency physicians who were on duty at the study hospitals during the 13-hour period immediately following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The 51 acute-care hospitals in the six northern California counties most affected by the Loma Prieta earthquake. Questionnaires and in-person interviews. The most frequently noted problem was lack of communications within and among organizations. Hospitals received inadequate information about the disaster from local governmental agencies. Forty-three percent of hospitals had inadequate back-up power configurations, and five hospitals sustained total back-up generator failures. Twenty hospitals performed partial evacuations. The Loma Prieta earthquake did not cause total disruption of hospital services. Hospitals need to work with local governmental agencies and internal hospital departments to improve disaster communications.
Disasters, whether natural or man-made, usually are unpredictable. Efforts to reduce morbidity and mortality from a disaster should be put forth before it occurs. A brief survey is presented of the worst flood to occur in a hundred years that affected eight provinces in Southeast China. The disaster preparedness and reposnse for Anhui Province, the hardest hit area, is summarized. The disaster preparedness was comprehensive, and cooperation was achieved among various specialties: military forces; firefighters; civil engineers; mechanics; police; provincial governors; the medical sectors; and so forth. Among these groups, the role of medical sectors was of great importance in reducing disease that would have resulted from such a disaster The measures undertaken by the medical sectors included development of an organization to reduce the impact of disaster; training of medical personnel in techniques of rescue and in treatment of victims in disaster areas; development of a plan to assist the leadership in decision-making and establishing support for disaster preparedness; and maintaining sufficient capacity in general hospitals for the admission of victims from disaster areas.
The Civil War in Georgia On 9 April 1991, the Republic of Georgia proclaimed its independence from the Soviet Union. Sviat Gamsakhurdia, an anti-communist leader of the Georgian Nationalist movement, was elected President by an overwhelming majority. Soon after the election, however, Gamsakhurdia's popularity began to plummet. He was accused of suppressing any opposition, and he and his supporters accused the opposition of being in league with Moscow and seeking to sabotage Georgian independence. Demonstrators in Tbilisi, the capital city, demanded the resignation of the new government, and the government relied increasingly upon armed forces to maintain power.
As a physician and aid worker for the World Health Organization (WHO), I spent some months during the winter (1992-1993) in the besieged city of Sarajevo and another month during the spring (1993) in northeastern Bosnia. Impressions from such an experience, in the middle of a war in Europe, naturally mark one's mind. As one who has seen Sarajevo's people desperately fight to survive the winter, during constant bombardment, and with lack of everything associated with basic needs such as fuel, food, water, and drugs, I will never forget. I could speak a long time about the hardship, as well as the helpfulness, friendship, and even happiness amid grief and misery. There were joyful parties with Bosnian songs and music, dinners with food made of almost nothing at all and held in homes seriously damaged by shelling. Sarajevo, that magic city, became a mysterious attraction to us foreigners. Once we had been there, we had to go back to see how the city was surviving. We all had the “Sarajevo Syndrome.”
Post-earthquake engineering and epidemiologic assessments are important for the development of injury prevention strategies. This paper describes mortality and its relationship to building collapse patterns and initial medical responses following the 1992 earthquake in Erzincan, Turkey. The study consisted of: 1) background data collection and review; 2) design and implementation of a field survey; and 3) site inspection of building collapse patterns. The survey included: 1) national (n = 11) and local (n = 17) officials; 2) medical and search and rescue (SAR) workers (n = 38); and 3) a geographically stratified random sample of lay survivors (n = 105). The survey instruments were designed to gather information regarding location, injuries, initial actions and prior training of survivors and responders, and the location, injuries, and management of dead and dying victims. A case-control design was constructed to assess the relationship between mortality, location, and building collapse pattern. There was extensive structural damage throughout the region, especially in the city where mid-rise, unreinforced masonry buildings (MUMBs) incorporating a "soft" first floor design (large store windows for commercial use) and one story adobe structures were most vulnerable to collapse. Of 526 people who died in the city, 87% (n = 456) were indoors at the time of the earthquake. Of these, 92% (n = 418) died in MUMBs. Of 54 witnessed deaths, 55% (n = 28) of victims died slowly, the majority of whom (n = 26) were pinned or trapped (p < 0.05). Of 42 MUMB occupants identified through the survey, those who died (n = 25) were more likely to have been occupying the ground floor when compared with survivors (n = 28) (p < 0.01). Official medical and search and rescue responders arrived after most deaths had occurred. Prior first-aid or rescue training of lay, uninjured survivors was associated with a higher likelihood of rescuing and resuscitating others (p < 0.001). During an earthquake, MUMBs with soft ground floor construction are highly lethal, especially for occupants on the the ground floor, suggesting that this building type is inappropriate for areas of seismic risk. The vulnerability of MUMBs appears due to a lack of lateral force resistance as a result of the use of glass store front windows and the absence of shear walls. The prevalence of this building type in earthquake-prone regions needs to be investigated further. A large portion of victims dying in an earthquake die slowly at the scene of injury. Prior public first-aid and rescue training programs increase participation in rescue efforts in major earthquakes and may improve survival.
Little information exists concerning special medical needs at the athletes' residence (as distinct from the sport venues) at major international sporting events. During the summer of 1993, Buffalo, New York became the first city in the United States to host the World University Games. Approximately 6,000 athletes and accompanying staff from 118 countries attended. This report seeks to characterize emergency medical care use and the degree of language difficulty encountered at the athletes' village medical center (AVMC) set up at the athletes' residence for this event. Demographic data were collected prospectively for each athlete or staff member housed in the athletes' village who presented to AVMC for medical evaluation rather than being cared for by a team physician or at one of the venues. Difficulty in medical treatment secondary to language differences was assessed by the treating physician on a scale of 0-3. Over the 14 days that the AVMC was in operation, for 24 hours a day, a total of 362 athletes (mean age: 22.9 +/- 2.9 years, 257 males, 105 females) and 149 accompanying staff (mean age: 39.8 +/- 11.6 years, 110 males, 39 females) were treated. More than 90% of the patients were seen between the hours of 0800 and 2400. A broad spectrum of minor medical problems occurred, with musculoskeletal injuries accounting for most of the visits for both athletes (54%) and staff (27%). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents and oral antibiotics were the most commonly prescribed medications. On-site radiographic facilities were used for 22% of the athletes and 11% of the staff treated. The majority of patients (92% of athletes, 91% of staff) were discharged from the AVMC. Four of the 12 patients that were transferred to a hospital-based emergency department were admitted to the hospital. Language problems, as assessed by the treating physician, were mostly minor; 25% of the patients had accompanying interpreters. One volunteer physician, and two to three nurses adequately staffed each shift. The AVMC provided medical care for a large variety of medical problems that could be treated on-site without transfer to a higher-level facility, thereby providing directed medical care for this special population in a secure environment. Language differences were perceived as a minor problem. This report should be valuable in the planning of medical care at the athletes' residences for similarly large sporting events.
From June through August 1993, extensive flooding in the Mississippi and Missouri River basins resulted in 50 deaths and 12 billion dollars [U.S.] in damages in nine Midwestern states. In Iowa (1990 population 2,777,000), the government declared all 99 counties Federal Disaster Areas. This study examines how this event impacted local emergency medical services (EMS). All 797 registered prehospital ambulance, rescue, and first-response companies in Iowa received survey questionnaires. Two follow-up mailings were provided for non-responders. A total of 468 EMS companies (59%) returned completed questionnaires. The geographic distribution of responders and non-responders was similar. Of the companies responding, 132 (28%) reported an impact on their operations from the flood disaster. The most frequently reported operational changes included the use of non-traditional vehicles, providing aid to regions outside usual service areas, and involvement in non-medical rescue operations. A major flood provides unique challenges for emergency medical services. Cross-sectional surveys can identify areas of improvement for prehospital systems located in flood-prone areas. Results from this study provide a basis for constructing a more refined instrument to study future flood disasters.
Extent of the Catastrophe More than 2 million refugees, 2–3 million displaced persons internally, thousands of unaccompanied children, and a total number of reported fatalities of 48,347 in Goma, Zaire. Priorities for International Relief International relief support started with coordination provided by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In the first phase, availability of potable water was the highest priority. Current priorities are to intensify repatriation of Rwandan refugees under conditions that will guarantee human rights and allow for dignified daily living. Conclusion Education beginning at childhood, to overcome conflicts, social inequality, and overpopulation should be promoted by assisting governments, instead of pursuing policies aimed largely at forwarding their own national interests.
The medical impacts of disasters have focused on the injuries, illnesses, and deaths related to the disaster. Little has been written about the impact of disasters on persons who use prescription medications or those medications that require refrigeration, or those who require health aids. The objective of this study was an evaluation of the level of utilization of prescription medications and medications that require refrigeration as well as the use of health aids by the population affected by the disaster. Following the Northridge earthquake of 1994, a survey of Los Angeles County households was conducted to assess the impact of the earthquake. A total of 1247 households completed the 48 minute telephone interview. As part of the interview, 10 questions assessed the utilization of medications and medical aids by household members and the effects that the earthquake had on those medications and devices. Chi-square, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and logistic regression analysis were applied. Of the 1,212 completed interviews, 21% of the households had a family member taking a prescription medication or a medication requiring refrigeration. Associated factors included gender, race, age, household income, level of education, presence of children, and the intensity of the earthquake (by the Modified Mercalli Index). Only 3% of those that reported medication usage noted problems associated with the use of these medications. Thirty-nine percent of the respondents indicated that someone in the household used a health aid (e.g., eyeglasses, hearing aid, etc.). Usage was related to gender, race, age, household income, level of education, presence of children, and the intensity of the shaking associated with the earthquake. Of these, 6.5% reported difficulty with these aids, usually related to loss or breakage. Although the proportions of the population requiring prescription or refrigerated medications and/or for those using health aids in Los Angeles seemingly are small, this translates to 630,000 households in which someone requires medications and 1.2 million households with a requirement for health aids. Thus, there are a huge number of persons at risk for serious medical problems related to these medications and devices that could produce profound medical problems during a disaster. However, during and following a moderate earthquake, it does not seem that the consequences will be great.
To assess the volume of patients and the composition of their injuries and illnesses that presented to an emergency department (ED) close to the epicenter of an earthquake that occurred in a seismically prepared area. A retrospective analysis of data abstracted from charts and ED logs for patient census and types of injuries and illnesses of the patients who presented in the ED of a community hospital before and after the earthquake (6.8 Richter scale) that occurred in 1994 in Los Angeles. Illnesses were classified as trauma- and non-trauma related. Data were compared with epidemiological profiles of earthquakes in seismically prepared and unprepared areas. A statistically significant increase in ED patient census over baseline lasted 11 days. There was a large increase in the number of traumatic injuries such as lacerations and orthopedic injuries during the first 48 hours. Beginning on the third day after the event, primary care conditions predominated. When the effects of the LA quake were compared with those of similar Richter magnitude and disruptive capability, the ED epidemiology profile was similar to those in seismically unprepared areas, except for the total number of casualties. The majority of patients with traumatic injuries presented within the first 48 hours. The increase relative to baseline lasted 11 days. Efforts to develop disaster response systems from resources outside the disaster-stricken area should focus on providing mostly primary care assistance. Communities in seismically prepared areas could require external medical assistance for their EDs for up to two weeks following the event.
Due to more than a decade of armed conflict and civil unrest, Chechnya is among the regions most affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance worldwide. The study was performed to assess the magnitude of injuries and deaths due to landmines and unexploded ordnance in Chechnya between 1994 and 2005 and to describe epidemiologic patterns and risk factors for these events. Surveillance data that included 3,021 civilian non-combatants injured by landmines and unexploded ordnance in Chechnya during 1994-2005 were analyzed. Local non-governmental organizations in collaboration with the United Nations Children's Fund conducted victim data collection using trained staff to interview victims or their families. Surveillance data were used to describe injury trends, victim demographics, injury types, risk behaviors, and types of explosives related to landmine and unexploded ordnance events. The largest number of injuries occurred in 2000 (716, injury rate 6.6 per 10,000) and 2001 (640, injury rate 5.9 per 10,000). One-quarter of all victims were younger than 18 years, and 19% were females. The case-fatality rate was 23%. Approximately 40% of victims were injured by landmines, 30% by unexploded ordnance, and 7% by booby traps. A large proportion of children and adults were injured while traveling or performing activities of economic necessity; 29% of children were injured while tampering with explosives or playing in a contaminated area. The proportion of victims with lower limb amputations was similar among children and adults (14% and 17%, respectively), whereas the proportion ofvictims with upper limb amputations was three times higher in children than in adults (12% and 4%, respectively). Most accidents that occurred while the victim was traveling or performing activities of economic necessity were caused by landmines, while most accidents that occurred while the victim was playing near an explosive device or tampering with it were caused by unexploded ordnance. Civilians in Chechnya experienced the highest rates of injury from landmines and unexploded ordnance ever documented, 10 times higher than injury rates reported from such highly affected countries as Afghanistan, Angola, or Cambodia. Urgent efforts to identify, mark, and clear mined areas and/or areas contaminated with unexploded ordnance are needed to prevent further civilian injuries and deaths.
In large disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, rapid, adequate, and documented medical care and distribution of patients are essential. After a major (magnitude 6.7 Richter scale) earthquake occurred in Southern California, nine disaster medical assistance teams and two Veterans Administration (VA) buses with VA personnel responded to staff four medical stations, 19 disaster-assistance centers, and two mobile vans. All were under the supervision of the medical support unit (MSU) and its supervising officer. This article describes the patient-data collection system used. All facilities used the same patient-encounter forms, log sheets, and medical treatment forms. Copies of these records accompanied the patients during every transfer. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data classifications were used routinely. The MSU collected these forms twice each day so that all facilities had access to updated patient flow information. Through the use of these methods, more than 11,000 victims were treated, transferred, and their cases tracked during a 12-day period. Use of this system by all federal responders to a major disaster area led to organized care for a large number of victims. Factors enhancing this care were the simplicity of the forms, the use of the forms by all federal responders, a central data collection point, and accessibility of the data at a known site available to all agencies every 12 hours.
This paper describes the 1994 Northridge earthquake experience of the local emergency medical services (EMS) agency. Discussed are means that should improve future local agency disaster responses. Data reported are descriptive and were collected from multiple independent sources, and can be reviewed publicly and confirmed. Validated data collected during the disaster by the Local EMS Agency also are reported. The experience of the Los Angeles County EMS Agency was similar to that of earthquake disasters previously reported. Communication systems, water, food, shelter, sanitation means, power sources, and medical supplies were resources needed early in the disaster. Urban Search and Rescue Teams and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams were important elements in the response to the Northridge earthquake. The acute phase of the disaster ended within 48 to 72 hours and public health then became the predominant health-care issue. Locating community food and water supplies near shelters, providing transportation to medical care, and public-health visits to shelter locations helped prevent the development of long-term park encampments. An incident command system for the field, hospitals, and government responders was necessary for an organized response to the disaster. Disaster preparedness, multiple forms of reliable communication, rapid mobilization of resources, and knowledge of available state and federal resources are necessary for a disaster response by a local EMS agency.
Top-cited authors
Marvin L Birnbaum
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
Ernesto A Pretto, Jr.
  • University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Miroslav Klain
  • University of Pittsburgh
Louise K. Comfort
  • University of Pittsburgh
Samuel Tisherman
  • University of Pittsburgh