Medical Needs Documented by Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Responders to Areas Affected by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines: Implications on Disaster Response Policy

  • Carlos Primero D. Gundran
  • Hilton Y. Lam
  • Jaifred Christian F. Lopez
  • Emelia B. Santamaria
  • Anna Cristina A. Tuazon
  • Lotgarda Tayao
Keywords: cyclones, disaster medicine, emergency medical services, relief work, Typhoon Haiyan


Background. Despite existing disaster preparedness policies in the Philippines, there has not been any validated assessment of the quality of disaster medical response, which would require reliable aggregate data on patient diagnoses and management.

Objective. This mixed-methods study documented the diagnoses, triage classification and case management of patients seen by Philippine EMS groups who responded to the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in the Philippines in November and December 2013, as well as difficulties associated in gathering these data, using the Utstein-style Template for Uniform Data Reporting of Acute Medical Response in Disasters as framework.

Methods. Three hundred (300) individuals vetted by EMS organizations were invited to answer a survey modeled after the Utstein-style template, and submit tallies of patients seen. Out of 52 responses received, policy recommendations were subsequently generated on concerns assessed by the template using the nominal group technique.

Results. The submitted data yielded a total of 41,202 patients with information on age, sex, and diagnosis; 19,193 with triage classification; and 27,523 with information on case management. The focus group discussion underlined the absence of a standard communication and information management system. Participants recommended establishing such a system, and highlighted the role of the Department of Health – Health Emergency Management Bureau in coordinating disaster medical response efforts and information management.

Conclusion. This study underlines the importance of effective communication, and multisectoral coordination, to generate reliable data and thus, facilitate resource allocation for disaster medical response.


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