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Novel Tool Evaluates Disaster Readiness in U.S. Cities

New AMA Disaster Journal study simulates Manhattan disaster using actual city data

For immediate release:
June 3, 2009

CHICAGO – An innovative computer-based modeling approach for rare public health emergencies can help with disaster planning and medical response efforts in metropolitan areas. This is according to findings published today in the American Medical Association’s (AMA) Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal. The study simulated and evaluated hypothetical malicious sarin releases in several Manhattan locations using city demographic information and hospital resource and public transportation system data. Results showed that an attack in Manhattan could potentially result in up to 22,000 exposed individuals and 178 intensive care unit admissions.

“This platform is more sophisticated than previous disaster planning models,” said lead study author Silas Smith, M.D., Department of Emergency Medicine, New York University School of Medicine. “City-specific data was incorporated to study potential catastrophes and the medical and public health consequences. Hospitals and emergency planners may be able to better assess the effectiveness of emergency response plans and needed resources.”

The study used real data including population usage information from the major Manhattan bus and train transportation centers. The actual number of hospital beds and available stockpiles of medical resources from the city’s hospital system were also considered. Other factors evaluated included emergency medical services, hospital surge capacity, variable exposure effects and health declination, and behavioral and psychosocial characteristics of victims.

The computer simulation model could be used to simulate various hypothetical scenarios in metropolitan cities across the United States, and used to help improve our nation’s disaster preparedness.

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Editor’s Note: To obtain complete online access to the journal, contact AMA Media Relations at (312) 464-4813 and provide appropriate press credentials. The AMA’s Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal maintains editorial independence and the statements and opinions in the journal, including the articles referenced above, are not those of the AMA or Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

About AMA’s Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness Journal
The AMA Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness journal was created to promote public health preparedness and the science of disaster medicine. It is the first comprehensive, peer-reviewed publication emphasizing public health preparedness and disaster response. The journal is published for the AMA by leading health care publisher Lippincott Williams & Wilkins An online version can be found on the Web and also is available on the Journals@Ovid platform.

For more information, please contact:

American Medical Association
Leah Dudowicz
(312) 464-4813

New York University Medical Center
Dorie Klissas
Director, Media Relations
NYU Langone Medical Center
Cell: 646-761-4724

Lauren Woods
Senior Media Specialist
NYU Langone Medical Center