|Natural Disasters - Protecting the Public's Health (PAHO-OPS, 2000, 133 p.)|
|Chapter 6. Mass Casualty Management|
Medical treatment for large numbers of casualties is likely to be needed only after certain types of disasters. Most injuries are sustained during impact, and, thus, the greatest need for emergency care occurs in the first few hours. Many lives have been lost because local resources have not been mobilized quickly.
The burden of organizing and delivering transport, first aid, medical care, and supplies falls on the affected country. Help from the international community is unlikely to make a difference in saving lives during the period of greatest need, because of the response time required.
In the classic care approach used most commonly to deal with a huge number of victims after a disaster, first responders are trained to provide victims with basic triage and field care before evacuating them to the nearest available receiving health care facility.
The management of mass casualties is divided into three main areas: prehospital emergency care (search and rescue, first aid, triage, and stabilization of victims); hospital reception and treatment; and redistribution of patients to other hospitals when necessary.