Tracking the daily availability of burn beds for national emergencies.J Burn Care Rehabil. 2005 Mar-Apr; 26(2):174-82.JB
Medical planning for Operation Iraqi Freedom included predictive models of expected number of burn casualties. In all but the best-case scenario, casualty estimates exceeded the capacity of the only Department of Defense burn center. Examination of existing federal-civilian disaster plans for military hospital augmentation revealed that bed availability data were neither timely nor accurate. Recognizing the need for accurate knowledge of burn bed availability, the Department of Defense requested assistance from the American Burn Association (ABA). Directors of burn centers in the United States were queried for interest in participation in a mass casualty plan to provide overflow burn bed capacity. A list of 70 participating burn centers was devised based upon proximity to planned military embarkation points. A computer tracking program was developed. Daily automated e-mail messages requesting bed status were sent to burn center directors at 6 am Central time with responses requested before 11 am. The collated list of national overflow burn bed capacity was e-mailed each day to the ABA Central Office and to federal and military agencies involved with burn patient triage and transportation. Once automated, this task required only 1-2 hours a day. Available burn-bed lists were generated daily between March 17 and May 2, 2003 and then every other day until May 9, 2003. A total of 2151 responses were received (mean, 43 burn centers per day). A system to track daily nationwide burn bed availability was successfully implemented. Although intended for military conflict, this system is equally applicable to civilian mass casualty situations. We advocate adoption of this or a similar bed tracking system by the ABA for use during burn mass casualty incidents.