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Multidisciplinary teams helped marathon bombing survivors rebuild their lives

Alexandria, VA and Needham, MA Due to rigorous disaster preparedness and the heroic actions of first responders and emergency and trauma personnel, not a single one of the nearly 200 people hospitalized after the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings died, despite many grave injuries. And, thanks to the orthopaedic surgeons and physical therapists who have helped those affected, survivors are now well on the road to recovery.

The Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy (JOSPT) and The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS) co-published a Special Report today entitled It Takes a Team: The 2013 Boston Marathon Preparing for and Recovering from a Mass-Casualty Event. This unique report highlights multidisciplinary planning, integrated clinical teamwork, and continuity of care and is being distributed in a cooperative arrangement to JBJS and JOSPT subscribers. Because it is of interest to all emergency preparedness and health care professionals, both journals are also making it available for download at no cost.

It Takes a Team explains how multidisciplinary health care teams prepared for a mass-casualty event, responded to it, and helped survivors rebuild their lives afterward. The lessons and best practices that emerged are universally applicable for any clinician or professional in the emergency-preparedness/response, surgical, and rehabilitation fields.

The report explores how key players helped transform a tragic situation through testimony from:

  • Marathon bombing patients
  • First responders
  • Orthopaedic and trauma surgeons
  • Physical therapists
  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians
  • Psychotherapists
  • Nurses
  • Hospital, city, and state emergency preparedness and response leaders

The interviews included in It Takes a Team detail how collaborations among physicians, physical therapists, and other clinicians led to improved outcomes, quicker patient recoveries, and fewer complications.

The report pinpoints many lessons learned from the Marathon bombings and other mass-casualty incidents, among them:

  • Be broad and collaborative in mass-casualty planning; an occasional emergency preparedness exercise isn't enough.

  • Practice frequently, and include low-frequency, high-impact scenarios such as an active shooter.

  • Senior-level commitment to preparedness in hospitals and government agencies is essential.

  • Identify the gaps in response to nonlocal disasters, and practice to eliminate them in your community.

  • Any communication you make during a disaster should be clear, quick, and truthful.

  • Provide ample emotional support for both patients and clinical caregivers during and after a mass-casualty event.

  • Everyone has a role and responsibility in an emergency; know where to go and from whom you will get information and instructions.


Contact: Nicola Poser
Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery

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