The news is alarming. Fires, fires everywhere.
People in panic have little time to find a way out. But they know that very soon the fire is going to rage out of control with terrible amounts of heat and thick toxic smoke coming towards them. They decide to react.
The first step is successful evacuation.
They only know that a quick and early response will be the key to their successful survival efforts. But there are only some things you can do in a short time.
Now they are hoping to get a medical response to the injured. But what do health officials do to help survivors and victims? All they hear from is an activated medical rescue unit, but what is it? Everybody knows that the number one concern in a disaster is people.
That is why health is one of the most critical areas where society is trying to be better prepared.
After the announcement of the fire and within 24 hours, suitably equipped medical teams begin to advance on the disaster scene and to develop. They must have the necessary resources to ensure that the teams are autonomous during the first 72 hours.
Fires may result in varying injury and disease patterns. This means, even though we do not know exactly what follows, what is certain is the serious consequences for the health of citizens.
Disaster medicine is the result. But one question now arises: what disaster medicine will make during this fire disaster?
Responsibility for the care of persons injured by the fire has been entrusted to the emergency specialist or equivalent DM experts within this team.
Desperate need for help.
Specifically, Disaster Medicine is the medical specialty for providing health care and medical counselling to disaster survivors. But some are not satisfied and question the importance of disaster medicine in this fire situation.
The terms disaster medicine and disaster health are used interchangingly. Topics such as emergency medical services, definitive treatment centres (hospitals and other health care settings) are at the forefront of intervention terminology.
Hope and despair. An absolute mess.
Survivors are waiting for immediate help from medical teams in the disaster area, but are unsure whether it will come from something like emergency medicine. In reality, there is no “rescue clinic” for survivors, only people in disaster medicine (or emergency units) waiting to provide assistance.
What they don't know is that disaster medicine is a systems-based specialty, and its members have to be familiar and interact with multiple agencies in the field.
It's an umbrella term that refers to a variety of disciplines. They are the result of the combination of emergency medicine and disaster management, and many others are often called the arsenal of disaster medicine.
But it's not that easy.
In order to have an idea of the situation in which we will react, we develop disaster scenarios. However, because of the potential variability of disaster scenarios, the DM specialist should be trained on the different types of injuries and illnesses suffered by disaster victims.
But we have to recognize that in many countries a lot of the fire and disaster medical response framework has followed a model similar to that of the military. Otherwise stated military-centric solutions for urban models.
The situations examined for the battlefield with soldiers injured by fire presented different response patterns compared to today's urban cases (scenarios in which a fire may result in population losses). Lessons learned from battlefield intervention scenarios provided a framework for such interventions and demonstrated how to orchestrate effective care for mass victims in such settings.
It's really complicated and not only that.
In all disaster zones, the main role of fire emergency medicine is the prevention of morbidity and mortality. In addition, in the event of a fire, look after the injured, protect employees and keep the public informed. It is important to manage poor environmental conditions and to enhance normal health. Last but not least, restore health care. Its implications are evident throughout the disaster lifecycle. Disaster preparedness, planning, response and recovery.
We must stress that disaster medicine is a unique medical specialty. Disaster personnel does not leave their homes in the morning for the purpose of seeing fire victims. In other words, the disaster medicine specialist, unlike all other areas of specialization, does not practice the specialty every day, but only in emergency situations and, of course, in fire-related disasters.
Heavy duties, hard work, but not only.
Disaster medicine specialists have a broad range of duties, starting with providing specific advice and guidance to paramedics in the disaster area. Furthermore, support health care evacuation facilities by providing scheduling information to emergency management staff, hospitals, health care facilities and, of course, communities and governments.
They must care for those who need to be transported from a disaster site with the intention of treating these victims later. Support activities within a disaster first aid zone. But EM personnel need to keep in mind that they may need to respond when the disaster becomes large and unexpected in the event of an emergency. They must be close to the responder and together give up their normal duties by assuming a new role in the overall disaster response.
Virtually all clinicians can, in some circumstances, become emergency medicine specialists over a period of time. Also, it is easily understood that many medical disciplines are needed for the treatment of many types of patients during a disaster. To achieve this, they integrate their activities during the response and become more effective for the various types of injuries and illnesses that can occur.
The unique and constantly evolving environment in which disaster medicine specialists operate also requires an ever-evolving therapeutic response. People are afraid of this disaster because it can totally defoliate their forest and cause other types of structural changes to its ecosystem. The survivors now fear for their future.
In the disaster cycle, phases such as disaster preparedness and early response, as well as damage reduction and late recovery, are strongly supported through health interventions.
My gratitude to Jeffrey Levett, professor of Public Health, for his support in disaster management academic issues. I truly appreciate the time he spent helping me on many related occasions.