haiti

Capt. Mark Poirier, a medical officer with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, checks a baby brought to the squadron’s forward operating base in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 18. Injured children have special needs for equipment, including thinner hypodermic needles, appropriate pharmaceuticals in children’s dosages, and medical specialists in pediatrics and other areas. (Courtesy: U.S. Army/Flickr)

USC (US)—Victims of the Jan. 12 quake in Haiti include an extraordinarily high number of children—more than 110,000, nearly half of the estimated total—according to a statistical study.

This information should guide relief workers on the ground, according to Jeffrey Upperman and Robert Neches, co-developers of the Pediatric Emergency Decision Support System (PEDSS), a software tool to help medical service providers more effectively plan for, train for, and respond to serious incidents and disasters affecting children.

The PEDSS group has set up a blog to help guide the choice and distribution of relief supplies. The numbers are if anything understated, according to Neches, but the calculations use the latest available reports from relief efforts on the ground.

PEDSS uses statistical method to estimate how many of the potential victims of a disaster (so far, earthquakes have been most studied) in a given specific location (i.e., Los Angeles) will be children, and what they will need. Children have special needs for equipment, including thinner hypodermic needles, appropriate pharmaceuticals in children’s dosages, and medical specialists in pediatrics and in other areas.

Such needs in Haiti are particularly intense, because fully 35 percent of the population is under 15, meaning the estimated total number of injuries (250,000) contains far more children than it would in other areas.

PEDSS software tools work with seven age groups, ranging from 0-1 month up to 12-18 year olds.

The report by a specialist group at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and the University of Southern California details how many injuries are expected for each of 11 diagnoses, ranging from abdominal trauma to spine injury, in each of the age groups. Thus, for example, the model estimates that about 1,000 children aged 6-8 suffered crush injuries.

The software then uses these numbers to predict which medications and supplies each victim group would require. Thus, for treatment of the numerous crush injuries projected the program lists the drugs required and totals the amounts needed. The crush list begins “Calcium Gluconate 1 g/10mL—265263.0” doses.

Such estimates can help relief organizations procure the right supplies in the right quantities.

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