Prison Fire in Santiago de Chile

Country: Chile  •  Report published: April 17, 2015


Dr. Patricio Cortés Picazo
Director EMS SAMU Metropolitano Santiago de Chile 2010-2013
Emergency Medical Services SAMU Metropolitano Santiago de Chile

Role in incident:
Chief Operations Network Emergency Medical Services And Hospital System

Dr. Carlos Becerra, Dr. Luis Herrada, Mr. Roberto Araneda, Ms. Carolina Astorga

Summary: Prison Fire in Santiago de Chile

On December 8, 2010 (6:12AM), the SAMU Metropolitan Santiago de CHILE (EMS) was alerted of a fire in the Prison of San Miguel with 1,900 inmates and guards inside. Most of the victims died of inhalation of smoke or toxic gases and burns (81 deads).

In addition to ambulances in EMS of Santiago de Chile with advanced life support (ALS) and basic life support (BLS) hospitals with burn units, general public and private hospitals, other EMS [100 km +/-] as well as the “centralized beds unit” were activated.

The “Centralized Beds Unit” was a unit created 5-6 years ago to coordinate needs and costs due to ICU beds always being full. It is a unit managed by nurses and doctors that overviews availability of public and private Intensive Care Units beds in the city and some regions of the country. This unit is in constant communication with EMS communication centre, Emergency Rooms and ICUs. Both are in the city and located away from the incident. Other relevant organizations like Civilian Protection and Ministry of Health were alerted of this Mass Casualty Incident in progress from EMS coordinating centre (131).

On scene work consisted of: primarily triage of 466 patients who were burned (using START triage), of whom 81 were declared dead on-scene, 20 patients were evacuated to 9 different Emergency rooms. There were 7 ambulances with ALS competency and 13 ambulances with BLS competency on-scene. No patients were transported more than 17 km in the primary evacuation, none died after 24 hours. All patients were discharged from secondary health care facilities alive.

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