How the Community Can Help in a Mass Casualty Event
During an event such as a hurricane, an earthquake or a mass shooting, communities want to come together to offer assistance in any way they can. Often times this involves donating blood, food/water or other consumer goods. But the most critical time of need is during the immediate aftermath of the event when the primary goal is search and rescue for those injured. It can take several minutes for the appropriate emergency medical personnel to arrive on the scene, so here is some valuable information that members of the community can use Until Help Arrives.
Basic First Aid
Many people suffer some kind of injury that needs medical attention, but is not considered life threatening. In these situations, it may be appropriate for a layperson to provide assistance until the person can be looked at by a professional:
- Bleeding is one of the most dangerous injuries there are, and if not treated quickly and properly, a person can easily go into shock. Some bleeding can be controlled with pressure and a bandage, but often times it's more serious. ACEP has partnered with the White House National Security Council and the U.S. Department of Defense in an initiative called Stop The Bleed to expand the role of bystanders as immediate responders in stopping life-threatening bleeding.
- Broken Bones/Fractures: Symptoms of a broken bone include swelling, bruising and being unable to put weight on it or use it for normal movement. Do not move a person with a broken bone unless you are in a life-threatening situation involving further potential harm to the injured person (such as a car accident that results in a car fire), especially someone with a head, neck or back injury or a hip or pelvis fracture.
- Burns: A burn is damage to your body's tissues caused by heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight, or radiation. Scalds from hot liquids and steam, building fires and flammable liquids and gases are the most common causes of burns. Another kind is an inhalation injury, caused by breathing smoke.
- Cuts/Abraisions: Most cuts are minor, but it's still important to care for them. Most can be treated by cleaning with soap and water and applying a clean bandage. You also may want to treat the cut with an antibiotic ointment. If you delay care for only a few hours, even a minor wound can build enough bacteria to cause a serious infection and increase your risk of a noticeable scar.
Sudden events such an earthquake or mass shooting are just that — sudden and don't allow time for preparation. However more often than not, disaster events such as a hurricane occur with some notice. ACEP has the following resources to help you prepare.
- Family Disaster Preparedness Guide: There are numerous family disasters that can occur, but many of the ways to prepare for them are similar. The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) recommends that families first identify what types of disasters are common in their regions.
- Family Disaster Preparedness — Disaster Supply Kit: An important part of family disaster preparedness planning is putting together a disaster supply kit. All family members in your household should be made aware of the items in this kit, and it should be easily accessible to everyone. In addition, your family may want to consider assembling two types of kits — one for potential emergencies or disasters that may affect your particular geographical area (such as floods, tornadoes, hurricanes) and another for a potential act of terrorism.
- Family Disaster Preparedness — Develop a Plan: Knowing what to do and where to go before disaster strikes is crucial. Write your plan down and store it in a safe place. Take it with you if you're forced to leave your home. Practice this plan often (especially with younger kids), and share it with loved ones. This can save valuable time and help locate you in the event of an emergency.
- Free-to-Play, Web-based Computer Game Helps Families Prepare for Catastrophic Disasters: ACEP and Legacy Games have released Disaster Hero™, a game designed to teach families how to prepare for all types of hazards or emergencies. The game was developed as part of a grant administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency and is available for FREE download at www.disasterhero.com.