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Keywords:

  • World Trade Center;
  • disaster;
  • hazards;
  • disaster management;
  • incident command;
  • emergency operations center;
  • disaster medical assistance teams;
  • urban search and rescue;
  • surveillance;
  • epidemiology;
  • mortality;
  • morbidity;
  • prevention;
  • geographic information systems;
  • wireless application protocols;
  • respite care

Abstract

The terrorist destruction of the World Trade Center led to the greatest loss of life from a criminal incident in the history of the United States. There were 2,801 persons killed or missing at the disaster site, including 147 dead on two hijacked aircraft. Hundreds of buildings sustained direct damage or contamination. Forty different agencies responded with command and control exercised by an incident command system as well as an emergency operations center. Dozens of hazards complicated relief and recovery efforts. Five victims were rescued from the rubble. Up to 1,000 personnel worked daily at the World Trade Center disaster site. These workers collectively made an average of 270 daily presentations to health care providers in the first month post-disaster. Of presentations for clinical symptoms, leading clinical diagnoses were ocular injuries, headaches, and lung injuries. Mechanical injury accounted for 39% of clinical presentations and appeared preventable by personal protective equipment. Limitations emerged in the site application of emergency triage and clinical care. Notable assets in the site management of health issues include action plans from the incident command system, geographic information system products, wireless application technology, technical consensus among health and safety authorities, and workers' respite care.