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Tan CM, Lee VJ, Chang GH, Ang HX, Seet B
Correspondence: Dr Clive Tan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction This paper provides an overview of cases seen by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medical and surgical teams in the 2009 Sumatra earthquake and discusses the role of militaries in the acute phase of a disaster.
Methods Two SAF primary healthcare clinics prospectively collected patient medical information for comparison. Descriptive analysis of the Emergency Department (ED) and surgical case records was performed.
Results 1,015 patients were seen by the two primary healthcare clinics. In both Koto Bangko and Pariaman, respiratoryrelated conditions were the most common diagnoses (47.2% and 30.6%, respectively), followed by musculoskeletal/joint conditions (31.6% and 20.6%, respectively). In the ED, 55% and 27% of the 113 patients had trauma-related and infectiverelated diagnoses, respectively. Lacerations and contusions were the most common forms of trauma. Lung infection was the most common infective diagnosis seen at the ED. The number of ED cases was high during the first week and gradually declined in the second week. 56% of the 102 surgical procedures were performed on dirty or infective wounds. Fractures requiring fixation comprised 38% of surgical procedures.
Conclusion Medical aid remains an important component of the overall humanitarian response. Militaries could play an important role in disaster response due to their ability to respond in a timely fashion and logistic capabilities. Pre-launch research on the affected area and knowledge on disaster-specific injury patterns would impact the expertise, equipment and supplies required. The increasing evidence base for disaster preparedness and medical response allows for better planning and reduces the impact of disasters on affected populations.
Keywords: disaster, earthquake, health needs, Indonesia, military
Singapore Med J 2012; 53(2): 99–103