Mass-casualty, terrorist bombings: Epidemiological outcomes, resource utilization, and time course of emergency needs (Part I)

Jeffrey L. Arnold*, Ming Che Tsai, Pinchas Halpern, Howard Smithline, Edita Stok, Gurkan Ersoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction: This article characterizes the epidemiological outcomes, resource utilization, and time course of emergency needs in mass-casualty, terrorist bombings producing 30 or more casualties.Methods: Eligible bombings were identified using a MEDLINE search of articles published between 1996 and October 2002 and a manual search of published references. Mortality, injury frequency, injury severity, emergency department (ED) utilization, hospital admission, and time interval data were abstracted and relevant rates were determined for each bombing. Median values for the rates and the inter-quartile ranges (IQR) were determined for bombing subgroups associated with: (1) vehicle delivery; (2) terrorist suicide; (3) confined-space setting; (4) open-air setting; (5) structural collapse sequela; and (6) structural fire sequela.Results: Inclusion criteria were met by 44 mass-casualty, terrorist bombings reported in 61 articles. Median values for the immediate mortality rates and IQRs were: vehicle-delivery, 4% (1-25%); terrorist-suicide, 19% (7-44%); confined-space 4% (1-11%); open-air, 1% (0-5%); structural-collapse, 18% (5-26%); structural fire 17% (1-17%); and overall, 3% (1-14%). A biphasic pattern of mortality and unique patterns of injury frequency were noted in all subgroups. Median values for the hospital admission rates and IQRs were: vehicle-delivery, 19% (14-50%); terrorist-suicide, 58% (38-77%); confined-space, 52% (36-71%); open-air, 13% (11-27%); structural-collapse, 41% (23-74%); structural-fire, 34% (25-44%); and overall, 34% (14-53%). The shortest reported time interval from detonation to the arrival of the first patient at an ED was five minutes. The shortest reported time interval from detonation to the arrival of the last patient at an ED was 15 minutes. The longest reported time interval from detonation to extrication of a live victim from a structural collapse was 36 hours.Conclusion: Epidemiological outcomes and resource utilization in mass-casualty, terrorist bombings vary with the characteristics of the event.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-234
Number of pages15
JournalPrehospital and Disaster Medicine
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • admissions
  • blast injury
  • bombing
  • disaster
  • disaster terrorism; emergency department
  • emergency medical services
  • epidemiology
  • explosion
  • hospital
  • injuries
  • injury severity
  • management
  • mass-casualty incident
  • mortality
  • prehospital
  • terrorism
  • terrorist bombing

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