Rethinking preparedness planning in disaster emergency care: lessons from a beyond-surge-capacity event

Sheuwen Chuang, David D. Woods, Morgan Reynolds, Hsien Wei Ting, Asher Balkin, Chin Wang Hsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Large-scale burn disasters can produce casualties that threaten medical care systems. This study proposes a new approach for developing hospital readiness and preparedness plan for these challenging beyond-surge-capacity events. Methods: The Formosa Fun Coast Dust Explosion (FFCDE) was studied. Data collection consisted of in-depth interviews with clinicians from four initial receiving hospitals and their relevant hospital records. A detailed timeline of patient flow and emergency department (ED) workload changes of individual hospitals were examined to build the EDs' overload patterns. Data analysis of the multiple hospitals' responses involved chronological process-tracing analysis, synthesis, and comparison analysis in developing an integrated adaptations framework. Results: A four-level ED overload pattern was constructed. It provided a synthesis of specifics on patient load changes and the process by which hospitals' surge capacity was overwhelmed over time. Correspondingly, an integrated 19 adaptations framework presenting holistic interrelations between adaptations was developed. Hospitals can utilize the overload patterns and overload metrics to design new scenarios with diverse demands for surge capacity. The framework can serve as an auxiliary tool for directive planning and cross-check to address the insufficiencies of preparedness plans. Conclusions: The study examined a wide-range spectrum of emergency care responses to the FFCDE. It indicated that solely depending on policies or guidelines for preparedness plans did not contribute real readiness to MCIs. Hospitals can use the study's findings and proposal to rethink preparedness planning for the future beyond surge capacity events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number59
JournalWorld Journal of Emergency Surgery
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Burn disaster
  • Emergency medical service
  • Formosa Fun Coast Dust Explosion
  • Mass casualty incident
  • Preparedness plan
  • Surge capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine


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