Oxygen Supplies During a Mass Casualty Situation

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Abstract:

Mass casualty and pandemic events pose a substantial challenge to the resources available in our current health care system. The ability to provide adequate oxygen therapy is one of the systems that could be out-stripped in certain conditions. Natural disasters can disrupt manufacturing or delivery, and pandemic events can increase consumption beyond the available supply. Patients may require manual resuscitation, basic oxygen therapy, or positive-pressure ventilation during these scenarios. Available sources of oxygen include bulk liquid oxygen systems, compressed gas cylinders, portable liquid oxygen (LOX) systems, and oxygen concentrators. The last two are available in a variety of configurations, which include personal and home systems that are suitable for individual patients, and larger systems that can provide oxygen to multiple patients or entire institutions. Bulk oxygen systems are robust and are probably sustainable during periods of high consumption, but are at risk if manufacturing or delivery is disrupted. Compressed gas cylinders offer support during temporary periods of need but are not a solution for extended periods of therapy. Personal oxygen concentrators and LOX systems are limited in their application during mass casualty scenarios. Large-capacity oxygen concentrators and LOX systems may effectively provide support to alternative care sites or larger institutions. They may also be appropriate selections for governmental emergency-response scenarios. Careful consideration of the strengths and limitations of each of these options can reduce the impact of a mass casualty event.

Keywords: BULK OXYGEN; COMPRESSED GAS; EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS; LIQUID OXYGEN; MASS CASUALTY; OXYGEN; OXYGEN CONCENTRATORS; PANDEMICS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Respiratory Care, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts

Publication date: February 1, 2008

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