Terrorism and Inhalation Disasters

Objectives and Goals


Disasters are sporadic and unpredictable and thus will lead to an overwhelming medical crisis.  However, the impact of a disaster on respiratory and critical care medicine is profound, from the acute, severe immediate event to the long term respiratory consequences.  Therefore, we prescribe to the following assumptions as outlined by Peter Wagner, MD during his tenure as ATS President.

  • Disasters are sudden and generally unpredictable in nature, timing, location and scale.
  • We cannot wait for disasters to happen and then decide what actions to take.
  • A common feature to disasters is that many lead to acute and chronic pulmonary disease.
  • The impact of a disaster on the on critical care system, especially mechanical ventilation and its consequences, can be severe and long lasting
  • Resources the ATS has to contribute may be unique, but are generally miniscule compared to need.
  • We need to optimize the use of our resources.
  • Clinical and scientific respiratory expertise and volunteerism are strengths of our society.
  • We have a good relationship with a number of other societies and need to expand our collaborative efforts.
  • Well-meaning but independent ATS contribution to disaster relief could distract or worse, impede relief agencies and volunteers from doing their job.
  • Planning projects independently of other groups can only lead to waste, causing duplication of effort and suboptimal use of resources.
  • We should be thinking about short-term, intermediate-term and long-term strategies.

The goal of our section is to serve as a resource for the ATS, its members and the ATS leadership by providing education, subject matter expertise to the ATS leadership, research and response guidance, and up to date information in response to disasters. We believe that the TID Section can best serve the ATS Leadership and the ATS Membership by playing to the 3 strengths of ATS, research, education, and clinical outreach


  • Serve as link between ATS and other professional and federal organizations interested in research in disaster medicine as it relates to pulmonary disease.
  • Serve as a resource for expert advice funding agencies in the planning of their research agendas.


  • Establish web site to provide information on educational resources.
  • Suggest and organize programs to be presented at the annual ATS International.
  • Develop educational programs and scientific symposium to be sponsored by ATS and sister organizations or federal agencies.

Clinical Outreach
Serve as a source of advice, respiratory and critical care specific information, and a volunteer link for physicians and first responders on appropriate procedures following disasters



Last Reviewed: May 2015