Disaster Medicine

Introduction of Health Sector Role During Disaster

Though, all kinds of disaster require more or less similar skill-sets and rescue-efforts at least a few days after the event, it is important to understand various kinds of disasters. Although the first few moments of disasters are distinctly different for each kind of disasters, understanding of each kind of disaster might also help in identifying the onset of a disastrous event, so that a trained person can undertake some key actions, during the initial few moments. This could have a major impact on the final outcome in terms of amount of final loss.

The main characteristics of a major disaster are that irrespective of the origin, after a little while the scene is the same:

  • Total chaos all around
  • Lack of utilities - which we have always taken for granted
  • No relief and rescue teams for several days
  • Lack of medical facilities

Thus, the sufferings are not just due to the disaster, but, post-disaster, many more people die and suffer because of:

  1. Lack of food, water, shelter ...
  2. Lack of medical attention
  3. Hygiene issues causing health hazards

Disaster Medicine

Disaster Medicine is the area of physician medical specialization serving the dual areas of providing health care to disaster survivors and providing medically related disaster preparation, disaster planning, disaster response and disaster recovery leadership throughout the disaster life cycle. Disaster medicine specialists provide insight, guidance and expertise on the principles and practice of medicine both in the disaster impact area and healthcare evacuation receiving facilities to emergency management professionals, hospitals, healthcare facilities, communities and governments. The disaster medicine specialist is the liaison between and partner to the medical contingency planner, the emergency management professional, the incident command system, and government and policy makers.

Disaster Healthcare - The provision of healthcare services by healthcare professionals to disaster survivors and disaster responders both in a disaster impact area and healthcare evacuation receiving facilities throughout the disaster life cycle.

Disaster Behavioral Health - Disaster behavioral health deals with the capability of disaster responders to perform optimally, and for disaster survivors to maintain or rapidly restore function, when faced with the threat or actual impact of disasters and extreme events.

Disaster Life Cycle - The time line for disaster events beginning with the period between disasters (interphase), progressing through the disaster event and the disaster response and culminating in the disaster recovery. Interphase begins as the end of the last disaster recovery and ends at the onset of the next disaster event. The disaster event begins when the event occurs and ends when the immediate event subsides. The disaster response begins when the event occurs and ends when acute disaster response services are no longer needed. Disaster recovery also begins with the disaster response and continues until the affected area is returned to the pre-event condition.

Disaster Planning - The act of devising a methodology for dealing with a disaster event, especially one with the potential to occur suddenly and cause great injury and/or loss of life, damage and hardship. Disaster planning occurs during the disaster interphase.

Disaster Preparation - The act of practicing and implementing the plan for dealing with a disaster event before and event occurs, especially one with the potential to occur suddenly and cause great injury and/or loss of life, damage and hardship. Disaster preparation occurs during the disaster interphase.

Disaster Recovery - The restoration or return to the former or better state or condition proceeding a disaster event (i.e., status quo ante, the state of affairs that existed previously). Disaster recovery is the fourth phase of the disaster life cycle.[4]

Disaster Response - The ability to answer the intense challenges posed by a disaster event. Disaster response is the third phase of the disaster life cycle.

Medical Contingency Planning - The act of devising a methodology for meeting the medical requirements of a population affected by a disaster event.

Medical Surge - An influx of patients (physical casualties and psychological casualties), bystanders, visitors, family members, media and individuals searching for the missing who present to a hospital or healthcare facility for treatment, information and/or shelter as a result of a disaster.

Surge Capacity - The ability to manage a sudden, unexpected increase in patient volume that would otherwise severely challenge or exceed the current capacity of the health care system.

Medical Triage - The separation of patients based on severity of injury or illness in light of available resources.

Psychosocial Triage - The separation of patients based on the severity of psychological injury or impact in light of available resources

Last modified: Monday, 21 November 2016, 9:29 AM