Mass-casualty victim "surge" management. Preparing for bombings and blast-related injuries with possibility of hazardous materials exposure.
Bombings and other blast-related events place severe demands on pre-hospital and in-hospital systems. The resulting surge of victims can overwhelm the resources of any facility not prepared for such an event. The September 11 terrorist attacks underscore the urgency of our need for preparedness. The challenges become even more daunting when there is possible hazmat exposure as well; this means that adequate and rapid disposition of victims is even more critical in order to avoid contamination of hospitals systems or whole communities. Federal agencies have been designated and federal mandates have been issued to address mass casualty events, but federal or even regional systems cannot respond in time to address the massive and immediate needs generated by an explosion. Local communities must take the lead in developing incident command systems for initial management of such events. Hospital and pre-hospital providers play a key role in such planning. Ultimate management and disposition of large numbers of casualties, especially if contaminated, cannot follow standard patient management protocols; new protocols are needed. To avoid a total, overwhelming break down of in-hospital resources, hospitals need to assume a lead role in addressing such issues in their local communities.
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