" That is the statement contained in all code of ethics in the medical profession. Disaster medicine sometimes makes this a very difficult task. In ordinary daily medical care, attention is focused on doing what is best for the patient following the basic ethical principles of beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice. The goal of disaster medicine is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people or casualties. It is not the intent to allow pain and suffering or a slow agonizing death but, it does happen inadvertently with limited resources available during a disaster. Some would consider this as doing harm by allowing suffering. Disaster situations utilize a public health ethics model more than they do a medical ethics model with the end goal of obtaining a balance between individual and collective rights of the patients (Karadag and Hakan 608).
According to the World Medical Association, a disaster is the sudden occurrence of calamitous, usually violent event resulting in substantial material damage, considerable displacement of people and a large number of victims and/or social disruption. The cause could be natural or man-made. The medical perspective of a disaster situation is characterized by an acute unforeseen imbalance between capacity and resources of the medical profession and the need of survivors who are injured or whose health is threatened over a given period. (WMA) Disasters are considered multi-casualty incidents that require an organized and structured response from multi-jurisdictions and multi-agencies in a timely manner to preserve life, property and infrastructure. In the past thirty years, millions of lives have been lost to disaster and billions of lives affected (Shears 750).
Coordinated efforts starting at local levels by the public health departments and responding medical agencies and personnel are established initially, then requests for state and federal teams are made.