Johns Hopkins emergency medicine specialists have
developed a tool to help hospitals prepare for disasters
with the potential to overwhelm services.
The Electronic Mass Casualty Assessment & Planning
Scenarios computer program calculates the impact of such
crises as a flu epidemic, bioterrorist attack, flood or
plane crash, accounting for such elements as numbers of
victims, wind direction, available medical resources,
bacterial incubation periods and bomb size.
This stand-alone free software program is intended to
allow users to model disaster scenarios for drill planning
and to use as an educational resource.
Written by members of the Johns Hopkins
Preparedness and Response office and of the
Laboratory, the program depends heavily on population
density estimates to derive "plausible estimates" of what
hospitals may expect in the first minutes or hours of a
"EMCAPS won't predict with absolute precision, but it
will give a good estimate of impact in a particular
neighborhood or city," said James Scheulen, administrator
of Johns Hopkins'
Department of Emergency Medicine and executive director
"The program gives us numbers and types of injuries
that are likely, to help users plan responses to
catastrophe with something more than experience and
intuition," he said.
For example, if a bomb similar to the one detonated in
Oklahoma City in 1995 were exploded in a moderately crowded
pedestrian area in an average large city, EMCAPS calculates
that 437 people would be killed, 768 would suffer acute
trauma injuries, and 3,759 would sustain urgent care
injuries that would require time in an emergency
department. Up to 1,407 would have injuries not requiring
"We can use EMCAPS to help state and local officials
and hospitals plan jointly for who and how many of what
injury would go where, and adjust communications, transport
systems, law enforcement and emergency personnel
assignments accordingly," Scheulen said.
EMCAPS development was funded with a $120,000 grant
from the federal Health Resources and Services
Administration Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program.
The software can be downloaded free at