Disaster Medicine and Mass Casualties?

Disaster Medicine and Mass Casualties?

What You Need to Know:

There have been numerous, seemingly random acts of violence in the form of mass shootings throughout the United States over the past several years. Foremost on the minds of many Americans are the recent attacks at a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas, a nightclub in Dayton, Ohio, and the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California. While many victims died at the scene, others were transported to local hospitals with life threatening injuries. A surge of trauma patients in need of emergency care arriving at a hospital already filled with patients in need of continuous care can overwhelm healthcare personnel and the hospital system; therefore, it is imperative to have plans and protocols in place to prepare for such unforeseen incidents.

How Can Hospitals Prepare for Mass Casualties?

New York area hospitals are frequently tasked with handling mass casualty incidents (MCI) and those numerous experiences have made them an authority on the subject. The Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) recently shared the Mass Casualty Incident Response Toolkit to help healthcare organizations develop their own MCI response strategies. GNYHA’s MCI response plan includes:

  • Monitoring, Notification, and Activation Protocols
  • Patient Triage
  • Clinical Management
  • Safety and Security
  • Preparing Hospital Staff for MCI Response
  • Supporting Family and Friends in the Aftermath
  • Managing the Community Response to an MCI
  • Legal and Regulatory Considerations
  • Recovery

The 15 ‘til 50 Mass Casualty Incident Toolkit from California is another blueprint with award winning protocols to guide hospital systems in caring for patients during an MCI. The idea behind this program is to empower hospitals to receive 50 or more patients within 15 minutes of an MCI. Deployment of staff, equipment, and supplies occurs quickly to fully activate MCI triage and treatment areas through the Hospital Incident Command System.

The Mass Casualty Incident Response and 15 ‘til 50 Mass Casualty Incident Toolkits are just two of the available options for hospitals. The most important takeaway message is that it doesn’t matter which toolkit is used for MCI management, as long as there is one in place that is familiar to all healthcare personnel who are responsible for carrying out the steps. The main goal of these toolkits is to provide rapid, safe, comprehensive care to all patients impacted by an MCI. 

Read More About Disaster Medicine and Mass Casualties:

Current Diagnosis and Treatment Emergency Medicine: Chapter 4. Disaster Medicine

Tintinalli’s Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide, 8e: Chapter 4. Mass Gatherings; Chapter 5. Disaster Preparedness

Two Minute Medicine: Quick Take: State Gun Laws, Gun Ownership, and Mass Shootings in the US: Cross-Sectional Time Series

Improvised Medicine: Providing Care in Extreme Environments, 2e: Chapter 40. Death and Survivors