Western Journal of Emergency Medicine: Integrating Emergency Care with Population Health
Mass Casualty Incident Response and Aeromedical Evacuation in Antarctica
- Author(s): Mills, Christopher N
- Mills, Gregory H
- et al.
Antarctica is one of the most remote regions on Earth. Mass casualty incident (MCI) responses in Antarctica are prone to complications from multiple environmental and operational challenges. This review of the current status of MCI risks and response strategies for Antarctica focuses on aeromedical evacuation, a critical component of many possible MCI scenarios. Extreme cold and weather, a lack of medical resources and a multitude of disparate international bases all exert unique demands on MCI response planning. Increasing cruise ship traffic is also escalating the risk of MCI occurrence. To be successful, MCI response must be well coordinated and undertaken by trained rescuers, especially in the setting of Antarctica. Helicopter rescue or aeromedical evacuation of victims to off-continent facilities may be necessary. Currently, military forces have the greatest capacity for mass air evacuation. Specific risks that are likely to occur include structure collapses, vehicle incapacitations, vehicle crashes and fires. All of these events pose concomitant risks of hypothermia among both victims and rescuers. Antarctica’s unique environment requires flexible yet robust MCI response planning among the many entities in operation on the continent. [West J Emerg Med. 2011;12(1):37-42.]