A quick primer for setting up and maintaining surgical intensive care in an austere environment: Practical tips from volunteers in a mass disaster


  • Randeep S. Jawa, MD
  • Jagtar S. Heir, DO
  • David Cancelada, MD
  • David H. Young, MD
  • David W. Mercer, MD




intensive care, austere, disaster, oxygen, mechanical ventilation


The provision of critical care in any environment is resource intensive. However, the provision of critical care in an austere environment/mass disaster zone is particularly challenging.While providers are well trained for care in a modern intensive care unit, they may be underprepared for resource-poor environments where there are limited or unfamiliar equipment and fewer support personnel. Based primarily on our experiences at a field hospital in Haiti, we created a short guide to critical care in a mass disaster in an austere environment. This guide will be useful to the team of physicians, nurses, respiratory care, logistics, and other support personnel who volunteer in future critical care relief efforts in limited resource settings.

Author Biographies

Randeep S. Jawa, MD

Assistant Professor of Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska.

Jagtar S. Heir, DO

Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas.

David Cancelada, MD

CoL. (Retd.), Tallgrass Surgical Associates, Topeka, Kansas.

David H. Young, MD

Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska.

David W. Mercer, MD

Professor of Surgery, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska.


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How to Cite

Jawa, MD, R. S., J. S. Heir, DO, D. Cancelada, MD, D. H. Young, MD, and D. W. Mercer, MD. “A Quick Primer for Setting up and Maintaining Surgical Intensive Care in an Austere Environment: Practical Tips from Volunteers in a Mass Disaster”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 7, no. 3, July 2012, pp. 223-9, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2012.0097.