With the recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon last week we thought it would be appropriate to cover some strategies to prepare for a mass casualty incident and how act and cope during and after the event.
While a variety of malicious methods are used by terrorist organizations to create fear and inflict harm, bombs are the most common. According to the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, bombings accounted for almost 70% of all terrorist attacks in the U.S. between 1980 and 2001.
Have a plan and know it
Every organization (work, school, community) and family should have a disaster plan in place and review it every few months. Here’s a sample family plan from FEMA.
Identify alternative hospitals
Hospitals and Emergency Care clinics closest to the event will be the busiest so be sure to know some alternative hospitals/clinics in your city.
If you suspect someone is going to set off a bomb, adhere to the following, depending on your environment:
- If you’re at home or in public, leave the area immediately and call 911. Tell the operator exactly what you saw or know.
- If you’re at work or school, follow the existing evacuation guidelines and adhere to directions from people in authority (police, firefighters, EMS, military personnel, or workplace supervisors/school administrators.
Immediately after the event:
If you or individuals in your immediate surroundings have life-threatening injuries provide or seek first aid as soon as possible. If you or individuals in your immediate surroundings have minor injuries seek out those more severely injured. If your, or a loved one’s, injuries are not life-threatening try to go to a hospital that is not in the immediate area of the blast as hospitals and clinics closest to the blast will quickly become crowded.
If you’re not injured and cannot be of any assistance, to keep safe, move away from the area – avoiding crowds, unattended cars and trucks, public transportation, and damaged buildings.
Hours and/or days after the event:
Stay away from the area surrounding the blast until authorities learn more about the situation. To stay up to date, turn on the radio, television, or your favorite news site online for updated health and safety announcements.
Even if the explosion didn’t result in any physical injuries the emotional toll is extensive. Feelings of fear, anxiety, and confusion are all common reactions – you may even feel dazed or numb as a result of the trauma, all of which is completely normal. Time helps alleviate these feeling along with:
- Try to follow your normal routine as much as possible
- Eat healthy, regular meals
- Do not dwell on TV, radio, or the Internet – try and limit your time around the sights and sounds of what happened
- Exercise and stay active
- Volunteer in the community
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends: If you or someone you know is having trouble dealing with the tragedy, ask for help. Asking for help is smart. Talk to a counselor, your doctor, or community organization, such as the suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-TALK) or the American Red Cross (1-866-GET-INFO)