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Major medical incidents [timeline]

Major incidents are defined as any incident ‘that requires the mobilisation and use of extraordinary resources’; with the NHS further expanding the definition of such events as ‘any incident where the location, number, severity, or type of live casualties requires extraordinary resources’. There have been many major incidents throughout history that have required an ‘extraordinary’ response by emergency services, medical personnel, and government bodies. Whilst this definition may seem strict, the variety in such incidents is wide: from health epidemics and natural disasters, to man-made events and accidents, with each requiring a complex and often changing response to help those affected.

Our timeline below explores the variety of major medical incidences that have occurred globally from 16th century and the immediate response to them by emergency services. Although major medical incidents cannot be foreseen, history has revealed that detailed preparation for and rapid response of such occurrences may help mitigate the devastation that follows.

Featured image credit: ‘StateLibQld 1 199599 Ambulance workers practise first aid on a volunteer patient, Brisbane, ca. 1942’, by Queensland Newspapers Pty Ltd. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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