Hurricane Dorian is the first major hurricane of this Atlantic season. It peaked at a Category 5 status and made initial landfall in the Bahamas. It is currently impacting the East Coast of the United States, first impacting Florida, and most currently impacting the Carolinas. The states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia declared a state of emergency.
Hurricanes are amongst the most destructive of natural disasters due to gale force winds and profound flooding. Most early deaths related to hurricanes are caused by drowning associated with storm-surge related flooding. Some early deaths are also related to trauma from gale-force winds (flying debris or collapsing buildings). Late causes of morbidity can often be due to outbreaks of communicable diseases, especially in areas that have been particularly devastated or in destitute areas. Hurricanes have the potential to cause more death and destruction in the later phases than in the early phases due to the potential for infectious outbreaks. Other causes of late deaths include trauma associated with cleanup, wound infection, and dehydration.
There are 4 basic phases in disaster preparedness and response, which comprise the “disaster cycle”. These include: preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation. Disaster planning begins at the federal level and continues at the state and hospital levels. A full discussion of disaster preparedness is outside the scope of this post, but to learn more about preparation and response at each level, please read more here.
Critical Care: Chapter 62: Critical Care of Disaster Victims
CURRENT Diagnosis & Treatment: Emergency Medicine, 8e: Chapter 4: Disaster Medicine