The concept of treating mass casualties in major disasters, particularly at or near airports, has gained considerable momentum in recent years (1). Major urban airports are almost without exception, plagued by access road traffic problems even under normal circumstances. Given a disaster within the confines of an airport, emergency equipment and medical support are found to be mired in a morass of sightseer and emergency service vehicles, compounding the congestion already present immeasurably (2).
Evolving from experiences gained over the past 30 years in handling masses of casualties resulting from aircraft disasters, we at Kennedy Airport have developed a Mobile Emergency Hospital which now serves as the “workshop” for stabilizing large numbers of injuries prior to subsequent transfer to definitive hospitals. The keys to this plan are the Trauma Team support used in conjunction with the mobile hospitals.
The ideal trauma team consists of 2 surgeons or trauma-trained physicians, one surgical nurse and one medical or 2 surgical technicians. These teams can be varied according to the immediate situation, time of day, available physicians, nurses and technicians. Anesthesiologists respond either individually or as members of some of the teams reporting directly to the operating units on arrival.
For an efficient response plan to function, previous liaison must be established primarily with teaching hospitals with a surgical staff that includes surgery and trauma residents. The Kennedy plan has a working arrangement with the New York Medical College and 8 of its affiliated major teaching hospitals in Manhattan, as well as in the main campus at Valhalla, which maintains an associated Burn Center.