Field management and critical care in mass disasters

Crit Care Clin. 1991 Apr;7(2):401-20.


As previously discussed, the majority of injury cases do not necessarily involve dramatic life-saving actions, but rather very rudimentary, promptly applied precautions. For most victims of trauma, therefore, we offer reassurance and simple compassion in their time of need. One of the more important lessons to be learned here is that, beyond prehospital injury "management" or "treatment," we should always remember to provide the best possible prehospital injury care. By responding as soon as possible and by delivering reassurance and compassion to those who are injured and frightened, we are providing one of the most sacred aspects of the Hippocratic mission. Despite wonderful technologic advances and the need for aggressiveness in disaster management, these humanistic values must always be maintained by those to whom care is entrusted. Successful transport of disaster victims, whether in the prehospital phase or during interhospital transfer, requires careful attention to treatment priorities, such as simple measures for airway control and ventilation, and care to prevent further injuries by appropriate immobilization techniques. The use of fully equipped teams of multidisciplinary critical care specialists in mass disaster situations is in its infancy. It is clear that with properly adapted hardware and personnel trained to function in adverse environments while effectively delivering intensive care to a large number of patients with a variety of clinical syndromes, survival can be significantly increased for the most acutely ill.

MeSH terms

  • Burns / therapy
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / therapy
  • Critical Care / organization & administration*
  • Disasters*
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / therapy
  • Transportation of Patients
  • Triage
  • Wounds, Nonpenetrating / therapy
  • Wounds, Penetrating / therapy