Are trauma surgeons prepared? A survey of trauma surgeons' disaster preparedness before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

on behalf of The American Association for Surgery of Trauma Disaster Committee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective US trauma centers (TCs) must remain prepared for mass casualty incidents (MCIs). However, trauma surgeons may lack formal MCI training. The recent COVID-19 pandemic drove multiple patient surges, overloaded Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies, and stressed TCs. This survey assessed trauma surgeons' MCI training, experience, and system and personal preparedness before the pandemic compared with the pandemic's third year. Methods Survey invitations were emailed to all 1544 members of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma in 2019, and then resent in 2022 to 1575 members with additional questions regarding the pandemic. Questions assessed practice type, TC characteristics, training, experience, beliefs about personal and hospital preparedness, likelihood of MCI scenarios, interventions desired from membership organizations, and pandemic experiences. Results The response rate was 16.7% in 2019 and 12% in 2022. In 2022, surgeons felt better prepared than their hospitals for pandemic care, mass shootings, and active shooters, but remained feeling less well prepared for cyberattack and hazardous material events, compared with 2019. Only 35% of the respondents had unintentional MCI response experience in 2019 or 2022, and even fewer had experience with intentional MCI. 78% had completed a Stop the Bleed (STB) course and 63% own an STB kit. 57% had engaged in family preparedness activities; less than 40% had a family action plan if they could not come home during an MCI. 100% of the respondents witnessed pandemic-related adverse events, including colleague and coworker illness, patient surges, and resource limitations, and 17% faced colleague or coworker death. Conclusions Trauma surgeons thought that they became better at pandemic care and rated themselves as better prepared than their hospitals for MCI care, which is an opportunity for them to take greater leadership roles. Opportunities remain to improve surgeons' family and personal MCI preparedness. Surgeons' most desired professional organization interventions include advocacy, national standards for TC preparedness, and online training. Level of evidence VII, survey of expert opinion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001073
JournalTrauma Surgery and Acute Care Open
Issue number1
StatePublished - 28 Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • Disasters
  • Mass Casualty Incidents


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