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August 1, 1959


Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

Chief, Medical and Health Section, Los Angeles County and Cities Civil Defense Planning Board.

JAMA. 1959;170(14):1688-1690. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.63010140014019

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It is the accepted obligation of our profession to give the very best possible medical care to our fellow citizens at all times and under any circumstances. This, of course, includes disaster medical care.

Disasters can strike any time, any place, and they need not be caused by war to be of major proportions. What is a major disaster? It must be relative, depending on the locality affected. As an example, a fire or earthquake that would destroy a dozen blocks in a smaller city could be considered major, but it probably would not be so thought of in one of our larger cities.

To oversimplify the answer, the functions of a hospital are to furnish the best possible medical care to the victims of a disaster, under the existing conditions. There are three principal possibilities of hospital involvement and function.

Disaster in Hospital Itself  The first possibility is in

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