6 Factors That Help Save Lives In A Disaster

From Olympic Park to the Boston Marathon to Texas

The New Yorker’s Atul Gawande writes often and well about medicine. This week, he described how disaster planning and training in hospitals saves lives. This morning he added a series of tweets:

In his New Yorker piece, Gawande talked described how the years of post-September 11 training in hospitals led to the “orchestration” that happened after Monday’s Boston Marathon explosions:

There’s a way such events are supposed to work. Each hospital has an incident commander who coördinates the clearing of emergency bays and hospital beds to open capacity, the mobilization of clinical staff and medical equipment for treatment, and communication with the city’s emergency command center. At my hospital, Stanley Ashley, a general surgeon and our chief medical officer, was that person. I talked to him after the event—I had been out of the city at the time of the explosions—and he told me that no sooner had he set up his command post and begun making phone calls then the first wave of victims arrived. Everything happened too fast for any ritualized plan to accommodate.

Even without the “ritualized plan,” staff had been so thoroughly trained that one emergency department director told Gawande he didn’t have to tell people much at all. “Everybody spontaneously knew the dance moves,” he said.

Learn more:

Learning How to Respond To A Boston-Style Emergency