Panamerican Journal of Trauma, Critical Care & Emergency Surgery

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VOLUME 8 , ISSUE 3 ( September-December, 2019 ) > List of Articles

Original Article

Prehospital and First Hospital System Response to a Terrorist Attack in Bogotá, Colombia

Maria F Jimenez, Andrés Becerra, Sergio Cervera, Elio F Sánchez, Jorge Ospina, Francisco J Henao, Alexander Paz, Gabriel Paredes, María I Gutiérrez

Keywords : Bombing, Mass casualty, Medical response, Terrorist attack

Citation Information : Jimenez MF, Becerra A, Cervera S, Sánchez EF, Ospina J, Henao FJ, Paz A, Paredes G, Gutiérrez MI. Prehospital and First Hospital System Response to a Terrorist Attack in Bogotá, Colombia. Panam J Trauma Crit Care Emerg Surg 2019; 8 (3):143-147.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10030-1254

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 07-12-2019

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2019; The Author(s).


Background: Assembling an effective medical response for an overwhelming number of casualties has become a priority worldwide. Terrorist attacks have been part of the Colombian contemporaneous history. On February 7, 2003, a terrorist car bomb explosion occurred inside a private club in Bogotá, causing the largest number of casualties of all terrorist attacks for over 15 years. The present study analyses the hospital and prehospital responses to this mass casualty event by characterizing the patterns of injury, resource allocation, and outcome in a tertiary-level hospital where most of the casualties were treated. Materials and methods: This is a retrospective chart review of the patients brought to a single hospital (La Clínica del Country), which was the nearest to the terrorist attack. Demographics, severity of injury, patterns of injury, prehospital care, and outcomes were determined from the hospital medical records and government registries. Results: Of the 240 victims, 35 died at the explosion site (immediate mortality 17%). The 205 survivors were dispersed throughout the city, of whom 63 patients came to La Clínica del Country hospital. Most of these patients were evaluated only clinically and deemed not serious. The main mechanism of trauma was blunt (81.4%). The mean injury severity score (ISS) was 5.6 ± 8.3. Ten patients required emergent surgical intervention and 14 patients were admitted. The in-hospital mortality was 20%. Conclusion: This mass casualty event was a true test for the Colombian emergency medical system and disaster preparedness. The medical response and resource optimization resulted in an overall mortality rate similar to those observed in the recent European and North American bombings. Despite the limited resources, the continuous challenge of terrorist's attacks in Colombia made the country feel the need for training and preparing the healthcare professionals, allowing effective delivery of medical care.

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