Medical care in California wildfire base camps

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This article was originally published here

Public health disaster preparedness Med. 2021 23: 1-8. doi: 10.1017 / dmp.2021.321. Online ahead of print.

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: The California Emergency Medical Services Authority manages and deploys California Medical Assistance Teams (CAL-MAT) for disaster medical incidents in the state. This analysis reviews the diagnoses of outpatient medical visits at several California wildfire base camp sites during the 2020 fire season.

METHODS: Clinical data without personal health information was retrospectively retrieved from the patient care records of all patients seen by a provider. The results were entered into Excel spreadsheets with calculation of summary statistics.

RESULTS: During the 2020 fire season, CAL-MAT teams deployed 21 times for a total of 327 days in base camps supporting large fires and treated 1,756 patients. The impacts of heat and environmental smoke are a constant factor near forest fires; however, our most common medical problem was rhus dermatitis (54.5%) due to poison ivy. All of the medical missions of 2020 have been further complicated by the prevention and management of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

CONCLUSIONS: There is very little literature regarding the acute medical needs faced by those responding to forest fires. Ninety-five percent of clinical conditions presented to a field medical team at wildfire base camp during a severe fire season in California can be managed by small teams operating in field tents.

PMID: 34809733 | DOI: 10.1017 / dmp.2021.321

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