Prehospital Indicators for Disaster Preparedness and Response: New York City Emergency Medical Services in Hurricane Sandy

Silas W. Smith, James Braun, Ian Portelli, Sidrah Malik, Glenn Asaeda, Elizabeth Lancet, Binhuan Wang, Ming Hu, David C. Lee, David J. Prezant, Lewis R. Goldfrank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective We aimed to evaluate emergency medical services (EMS) data as disaster metrics and to assess stress in surrounding hospitals and a municipal network after the closure of Bellevue Hospital during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Methods We retrospectively reviewed EMS activity and call types within New York City's 911 computer-assisted dispatch database from January 1, 2011, to December 31, 2013. We evaluated EMS ambulance transports to individual hospitals during Bellevue's closure and incremental recovery from urgent care capacity, to freestanding emergency department (ED) capability, freestanding ED with 911-receiving designation, and return of inpatient services. Results A total of 2,877,087 patient transports were available for analysis; a total of 707,593 involved Manhattan hospitals. The 911 ambulance transports disproportionately increased at the 3 closest hospitals by 63.6%, 60.7%, and 37.2%. When Bellevue closed, transports to specific hospitals increased by 45% or more for the following call types: blunt traumatic injury, drugs and alcohol, cardiac conditions, difficulty breathing, pedestrian struck, unconsciousness, altered mental status, and emotionally disturbed persons. Conclusions EMS data identified hospitals with disproportionately increased patient loads after Hurricane Sandy. Loss of Bellevue, a public, safety net medical center, produced statistically significant increases in specific types of medical and trauma transports at surrounding hospitals. Focused redeployment of human, economic, and social capital across hospital systems may be required to expedite regional health care systems recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-343
Number of pages11
JournalDisaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Hurricane Sandy
  • disaster
  • emergency departments
  • emergency medical services
  • prehospital
  • warning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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