Surge capacity and mass casualty incidents preparedness of emergency departments in a metropolitan city: a regional survey study

Sungjoon Park, Joo Jeong, Kyoung Jun Song, Young Hoon Yoon, Jaehoon Oh, Eui Jung Lee, Ki Jeong Hong, Jae Hee Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Emergency departments (EDs) generally receive many casualties in disaster or mass casualty incidents (MCI). Some studies have conceptually suggested the surge capacity that ED should have; however, only few studies have investigated measurable numbers in one community. This study investigated the surge capacity of the specific number of accommodatable patients and overall preparedness at EDs in a metropolitan city. Methods: This cross-sectional study officially surveyed surge capacity and disaster preparedness for all regional and local emergency medical centers (EMC) in Seoul with the Seoul Metropolitan Government's public health division. This study developed survey items on space, staff, stuff, and systems, which are essential elements of surge capacity. The number of patients acceptable for each ED was investigated by triage level in ordinary and crisis situations. Multivariate linear regression analysis was performed on hospital resource variables related to surge capacity. Results: In the second half of 2018, a survey was conducted targeting 31 EMC directors in Seoul. It was found that all regional and local EMCs in Seoul can accommodate 848 emergency patients and 537 non-emergency patients in crisis conditions. In ordinary situations, one EMC could accommodate an average of 1.3 patients with Korean Triage and Acuity Scale (KTAS) level 1, 3.1 patients with KTAS level 2, and 5.7 patients with KTAS level 3. In situations of crisis, this number increased to 3.4, 7.8, and 16.2, respectively. There are significant differences in surge capacity between ordinary and crisis conditions. The difference in surge capacity between regional and local EMC was not significant. In both ordinary and crisis conditions, only the total number of hospital beds were significantly associated with surge capacity. Conclusion: If the hospital's emergency transport system is ideally accomplished, patients arising from average MCI can be accommodated in Seoul. However, in a huge disaster, it may be challenging to handle the current surge capacity. More detailed follow-up studies are needed to prepare a surge capacity protocol in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Korean Medical Science
Issue number33
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Korean Academy of Medical Sciences


  • Disasters
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospital Emergency Service
  • Mass Casualty Incidents
  • Surge Capacity


Dive into the research topics of 'Surge capacity and mass casualty incidents preparedness of emergency departments in a metropolitan city: a regional survey study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this