Disasters produced by natural phenomena are sudden ecological events of sufficient magnitude to require external assistance. In recent years, these events have been affecting increasing numbers of people throughout the world. Since 2000, an average of 400 natural disasters a year have occurred worldwide, which is close to twice the occurrence in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The chaos that accompanied Hurricane Katrina in 2005 illustrates how these phenomena can affect even the most developed societies. Moreover, a natural disaster may precipitate a serious technological catastrophe by damaging nuclear power plants, buildings that house dangerous biological or chemical products, dams, or hydrocarbon-storage areas, thus becoming a natural and technological disaster.
This chapter from SCCM's Fundamentals of Disaster Management textbook seeks to:
- Explain the health-related and economic impacts of natural disasters.
- Identify common types of natural disasters and the injuries specific to each.
- Outline general aspects of managing casualties after a natural disaster.
- Discuss the intensivist’s role after a natural disaster.
- Describe the management of crush injuries.
Ruben J. Azocar, MD
Dauryne Shaffer, RN, BS