You no doubt remember where you were when you heard about it. At 2:50 p.m. on April 15, 2013, two explosive devices shattered the 117th Boston Marathon, sending 264 people to area hospitals and killing three. Federal agents were able to determine that the bombs were made from pressure cookers filled with explosives, nails, and shrapnel. Patients immediately began arriving at several area hospitals. The last survivor of the bombings to leave the hospital after multiple surgeries was not released until July 23, 2013. One of the most fascinating accounts of an emergency department’s (ED’s) mass-casualty response team comes from the staff at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, which treated 39 survivors over a roughly 3-hour period after the infamous Boston Marathon bombing. On the day of the bombings, BWH had already activated its mass-casualty response team on 78 occasions over the past 8 years, both for real-world events and during drills. The team had practiced using a wide array of scenarios—everything from chemical spills to train crashes to storms and building evacuations, including mass-casualty drills simulating the fallout from human-made disasters such as plane crashes, bombings, and mass shootings. These drills had been conducted in cooperation with public health drills conducted on a departmental, hospital-wide, citywide, and statewide basis. Then, on the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, all of the skill drills were put to the test. Do you feel your community is prepared for such a disaster? Do you feel your health care facility is, or the health care facilities in your community are prepared for such a disaster? What recommendations would you make in order for your community and the area health care facilities to be prepared for such a disaster?
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