Disaster preparedness/disaster medicine is a somewhat unique field of medicine in that it is a field we all need to address but hope to never use. Washoe County, Nevada has multiple potential threats particularly in the urban area of Reno, Sparks and Carson City because of the Truckee River and it is a major crossroads for highway and railroad transport. The Washoe County region prepares for 13 different hazards through emergency planning, training and exercises. The threats are assessed on a five-year basis. The following are major threats that would affect citizen health and have a direct impact on disaster medicine.
1. Arkstorm Flood – Major flooding of the Truckee Meadows due to an Atmospheric River storm lasting 2 or more weeks and flooding both Saint Mary’s Hospital and Renown and isolating Northern Nevada Hospital. (See RGJ article)
2. Major Earthquake – An earthquake >6.0 with damage to one or more of the hospitals, the communication system, and the highway system.
3. Wildland Fire – Could cause damage or loss of multiple houses, injuries, and evacuation of significant portions of the community.
4. Train or Highway Accident – resulting in the release of large amounts of toxic substances.