In a disaster or mass casualty incident, health care resources may be exceeded and systems may be challenged by unusual requirements. These resources may include pharmaceuticals, supplies, and equipment as well as certain types of academic and administrative expertise. New agencies and decision makers may need to work together in an unfamiliar environment. Furthermore, large numbers of casualties needing treatment, newer therapies required to care for these casualties, and increased workforce and space available for these casualties all contribute to what is often referred to as "surge." Surge capacity in emergency care can be described in technical, scientific terms that are measured by numbers and benchmarks (e.g., beds, patients, and medications) or can take on a more conceptual and abstract form (e.g., decisions, authority, and responsibility). The former may be referred to as the "science" of surge, whereas the latter, an equal if not more important component of surge systems that is more conceptual and abstract, can be considered the "art" of surge. The experiences from Israel and the U.S. military may serve to educate colleagues who may be required to respond or react to an event that taxes the current health care system. This report presents concrete examples of surge capacity strategies used by both Israel and the U.S. military and provides solutions that may be applied to other health care systems when faced with similar situations.
Key words: disaster; surge; Israel; combat; U.S. military
The Art and Science of Surge