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Effective Plans for Hospital System Response to Earthquake Emergencies




casualties, earthquakes, emergency response, hospitals, resilience


Hospital systems play a critical role in treating injuries and preventing additional deaths during disaster emergency response. Natural disasters hinder the ability of hospital systems to operate at full capacity. Therefore, it is important for cities to develop policies and standards that enable hospitals' continuous operations to provide patients with timely treatment and ensure urban resilience. Here, we present a methodology to evaluate emergency response based on a probabilistic model that assesses the loss of hospital functions and quantifies multiseverity injuries as a result of earthquake damage. The proposed methodology is able to design effective plans for patient transferal and allocation of medical resources using an optimization formulation. This methodology is applied to Lima, Peru, subjected to a disaster scenario based on the M 8.0 earthquake that occurred there in 1940. Our results show that the spatial distribution of health service demands mismatches the post-earthquake capacities of hospitals, leaving large zones on the periphery of Lima significantly underserved. This study demonstrates how emergency plans that leverage hospital-system coordination can address this demand-capacity mismatch, enabling effective patient transfers, ambulance usage, and deployment of emergency medical teams.


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