Hazardous materials (HAZMAT) carry many inherent dangers. Such materials are distributed widely in industrial and military sites. Toxic trauma (TT) denotes the complex of systemic and organ injury caused by toxic agents. Often, TT is associated with other injuries that also require the application of life-support techniques. Rapid onset of acute respiratory failure and consequent cardiovascular failure are of primary concern. Management of TT casualties is dependent upon the characteristics of the toxic agents involved and on the demographics surrounding the HAZMAT incident.
Agents that can produce TT possess two pairs of salient characteristics: (1) causality (toxicity and latency), and (2) EMS system (persistency and transmissibility). Two characteristics of presentations are important: (1) incident presentation, and (2) casualty presentation. In addition, many of these agents complicate the processes associated with anaesthesia and must be dealt with. Failure of recognition of these factors may result in the development of respiratory distress syndromes and multiorgan system failure, or even death.