Regional Variation in Critical Care Evacuation Needs for Children After a Mass Casualty Incident

To determine the ability of five New York statewide regions to accommodate 30 children needing critical care after a hypothetical mass casualty incident (MCI) and the duration to complete an evacuation to facilities in other regions if the surge exceeded local capacity.
A quantitative model evaluated pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) vacancies for MCI patients, based on data on existing resources, historical average occupancy, and evidence on early discharges and transfers in a public health emergency. Evacuation of patients exceeding local capacity to the nearest PICU center with vacancies was modeled in discrete event chronological simulations for three scenarios in each region: pediatric critical care transport teams were considered to originate from other PICU hospitals statewide, using (1) ground ambulances or (2) helicopters, and (3) noncritical care teams were considered to originate from the local MCI region using ground ambulances. Chronology of key events was modeled.
Across five regions, the number of children needing evacuation would vary from 0 to 23. The New York City (NYC) metropolitan area could accommodate all patients. The region closest to NYC could evacuate all excess patients to PICU hospitals in NYC within 12 hours using statewide critical care teams traveling by ground ambulance. Helicopters and local noncritical care teams would not shorten the evacuation. For other statewide regions, evacuation of excess patients by statewide critical care teams traveling by ground ambulance would require up to nearly 26 hours. Helicopter transport would reduce evacuation time by 40%-44%, while local noncritical care teams traveling by ground would reduce evacuation time by 16%-34%.
The present study provides a quantitative, evidence-based approach to estimate regional pediatric critical care evacuation needs after an MCI. Large metropolitan areas with many PICU beds would be better able to accommodate patients in a local MCI, and would serve as a crucial resource if an MCI occurred in a smaller community. Regions near a metropolitan area could be rapidly served by critical care transport teams traveling by ground ambulance. Regions distant from a metropolitan area might benefit from helicopter transport. Using local noncritical care transport teams would involve shorter delays and less expert care during evacuation.

Children & Disasters
Disaster Response