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July/August 2009

Mass Casualty Events

Mass casualty events, including both natural disasters and man-made situations, subject caregivers, patients and medical equipment to environmental extremes. A new standard being developed by ASTM International Committee F30 on Emergency Medical Services provides guidance for how medical equipment is expected to perform under the severe conditions of a mass casualty event.

The proposed standard, WK23835, Specification for Environmental Requirements for Medical Equipment Used in Mass Casualty Events, is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee F30.01 on EMS Equipment.

“Traditional environments require medical devices to meet temperature, dust, moisture, altitude, shock and vibration, and electromagnetic compatibility requirements,” says Leslie Sherman, president, Impact Instrumentation Inc., and vice chair of Committee F30. “At a mass casualty event there can be exacerbating factors that go beyond traditional environmental concerns, and this is what the proposed standard intends to address.”

According to Sherman, WK23835 will be used to educate and assist those involved in the selection of medical equipment for mass casualty care preparedness. “The educational aspect of the proposed standard will focus on how nontraditional environments can have deleterious effects on the operation of traditional medical equipment and the dangers these environments present to patient and caregiver,” says Sherman.

Individuals responsible for selecting medical devices for mass casualty events will be primary users of the proposed standard. These individuals include those based in local to federal government, emergency services and private industry. Sherman notes that recipients of federal grants in support of efforts to mitigate the effects of a mass casualty event will benefit considerably from WK23835, which will help grantees to understand the conditions in which medical devices will be expected to operate.

All interested parties, particularly those with firsthand practical experience at mass casualty events, are invited to join in the continuing development of WK23835.


Technical Information: Leslie Sherman, Impact Instrumentation Inc., West Caldwell, N.J.

Phone: 973-882-1212

ASTM Staff: Scott Orthey

Phone: 610-832-9730