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Ann Intern Med. 2010 Jul 6;153(1):45-8. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-153-1-201007060-00253. Epub 2010 May 4.

Early disaster response in Haiti: the Israeli field hospital experience.

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Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps Field Hospital, Home Front Command, and Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps Surgeon General, Jerusalem,


The earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 caused an estimated 230,000 deaths and injured approximately 250,000 people. The Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps Field Hospital was fully operational on site only 89 hours after the earthquake struck and was capable of providing sophisticated medical care. During the 10 days the hospital was operational, its staff treated 1111 patients, hospitalized 737 patients, and performed 244 operations on 203 patients. The field hospital also served as a referral center for medical teams from other countries that were deployed in the surrounding areas. The key factor that enabled rapid response during the early phase of the disaster from a distance of 6000 miles was a well-prepared and trained medical unit maintained on continuous alert. The prompt deployment of advanced-capability field hospitals is essential in disaster relief, especially in countries with minimal medical infrastructure. The changing medical requirements of people in an earthquake zone dictate that field hospitals be designed to operate with maximum flexibility and versatility regarding triage, staff positioning, treatment priorities, and hospitalization policies. Early coordination with local administrative bodies is indispensable.

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