A 1,000-bed hospital ship designed for trauma patients was deployed to the Middle East with the objectives of preparing for large numbers of casualties resulting from Operation Desert Storm from conventional, chemical, and biological weapons. Plans for receipt and decontamination of casualties, triage, and optimal utilization of the 1,000-bed facility were developed. Mass casualty drills were conducted, involving all aspects of patient care from the flight deck to the wards. Trauma and critical care registries were developed to collect casualty data that could then be analyzed for specific military purposes and compared with current civilian registries. Attempts were made to identify the advances in shock resuscitation, systems management, and operative treatment from the civilian community that could be applied to care of combat casualties. Difficulties with accomplishing these objectives included limited trauma experience and supplies and poorly defined medical regulating and evacuation policies. The development of these programs, as well as the unique difficulties encountered, are discussed.
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