Without notice emergency physicians at even the smallest EDs can be thrust into the limelight. Beyond dealing with the medical needs of the patients which is the first priority, as a physician leader you will also have public relations responsibilities during this time of crisis. Today we will review some Dos and Don’ts of dealing with the press after a mass casualty situation.


1. A truckload of cows broadsides a school bus and 30 children are brought to your emergency department. 4 are critically injured (children, not cows) and about 10 have sustained moderate injuries, the remaining 10 have minor injuries. Several other victims were taken to a local Children’s Hospital. You have expertly managed the initial portion of the event and the critical patients are admitted or off to the operating room. What are the next priorities?
A. Make sure a list of the involved patients is being put together.
B. Perform hand hygiene.
C. Check your hair for the cameras at the press conference.
D. Restock the pediatric disaster boxes.

Answer: A

One of the biggest challenges after an mass causality incident is getting families back together. This is a particular challenge with pediatric events. Children may be able to provide limited information to providers, even as simple as their name. Especially when victims go to more than one hospital, rapidly getting an accurate victim and disposition list together is critical to avoid having parents going to or repetitively calling the wrong hospital. The school system has policies for these events and also we have MnTrac, our electronic incident and patient tracking software that can be used to provide information about where victims went.

2. Public Relations has arranged for you to speak to the press, who are clamoring for information. What should you tell them?
A. No comment
B. Patient names
C. General information about the numbers of victims, condition, and overview of the types of injuries
D. That you have always wanted to be on TV