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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2006 May-Jun;21(3):204-10.

Prehospital care of tsunami victims in Thailand: description and analysis.

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Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, Beer-Sheva, Israel.



On 26 December 2004 at 09:00 h, an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude (Richter scale) struck the area off of the western coast of northern Sumatra, Indonesia, triggering a Tsunami. As of 25 January 2005, 5,388 fatalities were confirmed, 3,120 people were reported missing, and 8,457 people were wounded in Thailand alone. Little information is available in the medical literature regarding the response and restructuring of the prehospital healthcare system in dealing with major natural disasters.


The objective of the study was to analyze the prehospital medical response to the Tsunami in Thailand, and to identify possible ways of improving future preparedness and response.


The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Home Front Command Medical Department sent a research delegation to study the response of the Thai medical system to the 2004 earthquake and Tsunami disaster. The delegation met with Thai healthcare and military personnel, who provided medical care for and evacuated the Tsunami victims. The research instruments included questionnaires (open and closed questions), interviews, and a review of debriefing session reports held in the days following the Tsunami.


Beginning the day after the event, primary health care in the affected provinces was expanded and extended. This included: (1) strengthening existing primary care facilities with personnel and equipment; (2) enhancing communication and transportation capabilities; (3) erecting healthcare facilities in newly constructed evacuation centers; (4) deploying mobile, medical teams to make house calls to flood refugees in affected areas; and (5) deploying ambulance crews to the affected areas to search for survivors and provide primary care triage and transportation.


The restructuring of the prehospital healthcare system was crucial for optimal management of the healthcare needs of Tsunami victims and for the reduction of the patient loads on secondary medical facilities. The disaster plan of a national healthcare system should include special consideration for the restructuring and reinforcement prehospital system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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