On February 6, 2018, a 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck Hualien, a county of East Taiwan. Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, the only tertiary hospital in East Taiwan, activated the mass casualty incident (MCI) call and received 144 patients that night. Our operation did not perform satisfactorily despite regular MCI drills. Thus, a new strategy to cope with the increasing frequency of disaster-related MCIs was developed.
To facilitate the management of disaster-related MCIs, we developed a novel Disaster Response System which includes a triage system combining Simple Triage and Rapid Treatment (START) and Five-Level Taiwan Triage and Acuity Scale (TTAS), a novel registration system for MCIs, and anonymous patient identification and reporting system.
We begin the triage with the START method and then shift to the TTAS. The new registration system only needs the patient’s gender, age, and triage category. Patients are then assigned to different treatment areas accordingly. Further dispositions are applied after initial stabilization management. To identify the anonymous disaster victims, we take photographs of victims after clean-up and display them on an electronic bulletin with the patient list to the families in our emergency department. Real-time casualty statistics are collected automatically and synchronized to the governmental administrative system.
This novel Disaster Response System reduces the time from patient arrival to definite treatment and disposition in a simulated mass casualty incident exercise. The victim identification bulletin provides clear information to those who are seeking their family, and thus, avoids the chaos of the scene.
From the experience of the earthquake-related MCI, we found that inadequate training causes time mis-triage and treatment delays. Our Disaster Response System facilitates the workflow with an easily practiced algorithm, reveals on-time and easily accessible information to the public, and altogether improves our MCI management.