The US National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program indicates that each care facility must have "a plan to care for at least 50 cases per million people for patients suffering burns or trauma" to receive national funding disaster preparedness. The purpose of this study is to evaluate whether this directive is commensurate with the severity recent burn disasters, both nationally and internationally. We conducted a review of medical journal articles, investigative fire reports, and media news sources for major burn disasters dating from 1990 to present day. We defined a major burn disaster as any incident with ≥50 burn injuries and/or ≥ 30 burn-related deaths. We compared existing preparedness guidelines with the magnitude of recent burn disasters using as reference the 2005 U.S. Health and Human Services directive that each locale must "have a plan to care for at least 50 cases per million people for patients suffering burns or trauma." We reported the number of actual casualties for each incident, and estimated the number of burn beds theoretically available if the "50 [burn-injury] cases per million people" directive were to be applied to metropolitan areas outside the United States. Seven hundred fifty-two burn disaster incidents met our inclusion criteria. The majority of burn disasters occurred in Asia/Middle East. The incidence of major burn disasters from structural fires and industrial blasts remains constant in high-income and resource-restricted countries during this study period. The incidence of terrorist attacks increased 20-fold from 2001 to 2015 compared with 1990 to 2000. Recent incidents demonstrate that if current preparedness guidelines were to be adopted internationally, local resources including burn-bed availability would be insufficient to care for the total number of burn casualties. These findings underscore an urgent need to organize better regional, national, and international collaboration in burn disaster response.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine