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Health System Response and Adaptation to the Largest Sandstorm in the Middle East


The State of Qatar experienced a sandstorm on the night of April 1, 2015, lasting approximately 12 hours, with winds of more than 100 km/h and average particulate matter of approximately 10 μm in diameter. The emergency department (ED) of the main tertiary hospital in Qatar managed 62% of the total emergency calls and those of higher triage order. The peak load of patients during the event manifested approximately 6 hours after the onset. The Major Emergency Command Centre of the hospital ensured the department was maximally organized in terms of disaster management, and established protocols were brought into action. Multiple timely meetings were convened in efforts to effectively execute plans that included rapid emergency medical services handover time, resourcing staff, maximizing bed space, preventing dust entry in the ED, bypassing certain administrative processes, canceling day-surgeries that did not affect inpatient morbidity, and procuring additional respiratory equipment. Patients arrived mainly with exacerbations of asthma and respiratory distress, ophthalmic emergencies, and vehicular trauma; surprisingly, the incidence of pedestrian injuries did not vary. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2017;11:227–238)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Zain A. Bhutta, MBBS, Department of Emergency Medicine, Hamad General Hospital, Hamad Medical Corporation, Bin Omran, Off Al-Rayyan Road, PO Box 3050, Doha, Qatar (e-mail:


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Health System Response and Adaptation to the Largest Sandstorm in the Middle East


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