Learning from conflict and disaster in the Eastern Mediterranean regionBMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7573.843 (Published 19 October 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:843
All rapid responses
All natural disasters are unique in that each affected region of the
world has different social, economic, and health backgrounds. They follow
no rules and can occur anywhere and at any time and the number of victims
cannot be foreseen in any way. Most recently in the Middle East, the Bam
earthquake in Iran in 2003 struck at 5:26 a.m. local time and lasted 11
seconds while most people were asleep in their homes. It was one of the
worst disasters since the last century in Iran, with 41000 people presumed
to be dead, ten thousands injured, and nearly all survivors among the
original 100’000 inhabitants left homeless and many suffered a devastating
All disasters, regardless of their cause, have similar medical and
public health consequences. Based on an understanding of their common
features, a consistent medical approach to disasters have been developed
and are becoming the accepted practice throughout the world. This
strategy, called the mass-casualty-incident response, permits teams from
various countries to work together to meet disaster-related needs, despite
language and cultural barriers.Incident command systems (ICS), until
recently foreign concepts to many public health and private health care
systems, are a necessary component of any effective disaster response.
Disaster medical care is significantly different from the care
medical providers deliver on a daily basis. Medical disaster management
teams must be trained in basic principles of disaster response and the
ICS. Operational plans must take into consideration, communities'
resources, hazards, climate, and other unique factors; such as
understanding the cultural and social norms is of great importance
especially in Middle Eastern countries.
1- Briggs SM, Brinsfield KH. Advanced disaster medical response:
manual for providers. Boston: Harvard Medical International; 2003.
2- Dara SI, Ashton RW, Farmer JC, Carlton PK Jr. Worldwide disaster
medical response: an historical perspective. Crit Care Med 2005; 33(Suppl
Competing interests: No competing interests