Gleaning data from disaster: A hospital-based data mining method to study all-hazard triage after a chemical disaster


  • Jean B. Craig, PhD, MS, BS
  • Joan M. Culley, PhD, MPH, MS, RN, CWOCN
  • Abbas S. Tavakoli, DrPH, MPH, ME
  • Erik R. Svendsen, PhD, MS, BS



triage, chemical disaster, mass casualty, methods for disaster research


Objective: To describe the methods of evaluating currently available triage models for their efficacy in appropriately triaging the surge of patients after an all-hazards disaster.
Design: A method was developed for evaluating currently available triage models using extracted data from medical records of the victims from the Graniteville chlorine disaster.
Setting: On January 6, 2005, a freight train carrying three tanker cars of liquid chlorine was inadvertently switched onto an industrial spur in central Graniteville, SC. The train then crashed into a parked locomotive and derailed. This caused one of the chlorine tankers to rupture and immediately release ~60 tons of chlorine. Chlorine gas infiltrated the town with a population of 7,000.
Participants: This research focuses on the victims who received emergency care in South Carolina.
Results: With our data mapping and decision tree logic, the authors were successful in using the available extracted clinical data to estimate triage categories for use in our study.
Conclusions: The methodology outlined in this article shows the potential use of well-designed secondary analysis methods to improve mass casualty research.The steps are reliable and repeatable and can easily be extended or applied to other disaster datasets.

Author Biographies

Jean B. Craig, PhD, MS, BS

Office of Biomedical Informatics Services, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.

Joan M. Culley, PhD, MPH, MS, RN, CWOCN

Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.

Abbas S. Tavakoli, DrPH, MPH, ME

Director of Statistical Lab, College of Nursing, University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina.

Erik R. Svendsen, PhD, MS, BS

Department of Global Environmental Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana.


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How to Cite

Craig, PhD, MS, BS, J. B., J. M. Culley, PhD, MPH, MS, RN, CWOCN, A. S. Tavakoli, DrPH, MPH, ME, and E. R. Svendsen, PhD, MS, BS. “Gleaning Data from Disaster: A Hospital-Based Data Mining Method to Study All-Hazard Triage After a Chemical Disaster”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 8, no. 2, Apr. 2013, pp. 97-111, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2013.0116.




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