Mass Casualty Incident Management

Karen Owens, the emergency operations assistant manager for the Virginia Office of EMS, informed first responders on methods to set up and perform patient triage; treatment; and transport at her “Mass Casualty Incident Management” workshop. The Tuesday afternoon class was based on the Virginia curriculum that is now standardized across the state; it has also been adopted by the West Virginia Office of EMS. Owens’ workshop lecture included a PowerPoint presentation and a video showing triage in use. She discussed the leading causes of mass casualty incidents including natural disasters, transportation crashes, terrorism, and civil disobedience. Owens stressed first responders’ goals at these incidents, such as the need to manage scarce resources and avoiding relocating the disaster. She also emphasized the need for quality preplanning and communications and recognizable field personnel among the lessons learned for successful incident management. 

The class was also taught to dispatchers so they have an understanding of the on-scene situation as they listen by radio. “All first responders will benefit from knowledge of mass casualty incident management…as the first person on the scene takes command, his actions can dictate whether or not the incident will flow smoothly. One of our incident goals is to do ‘the greatest good for the greatest number.'”
Owens continued, “Mass Casaulty Incident Management training is a cornerstone program for preparing fire and EMS responders to provide optimum response and efficient operations at events with large numbers of patients.”

Owens’ most recent article, “Miscarriage: Recognition and Treatment,” appeared in the July 2009 issue of Fire Engineering.

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