Mankind has always been plagued by natural disasters which have produced large numbers of injured and dead. To these have been added the casualty-producing capabilities of the atom bomb and the thermonuclear weapon, so that now we may be faced with a problem which for sheer magnitude is totally new in the annals of mankind. For the first time a country at war may visit upon its enemies thousands or millions of simultaneously generated casualties, thus creating a great disparity between numbers of wounded and numbers of professional personnel available for providing treatment. The destruction produced by thermonuclear weapons will probably disrupt lines of communication, transportation, and electrical power for days, and perhaps weeks, and will compound the disproportion between numbers of casualties and medical capabilities. This will render more difficult the mobilization of medical personnel. In addition, in the event of a thermonuclear attack, it is felt that not
ZIPERMAN HH. Principles in the Surgical Management of Mass Casualties. AMA Arch Surg. 1958;77(1):1–9. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1958.01290010003001
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