Centers for Disease Control and Prevention logo
 link to CDC Home link to search page link to Health Topics A-Z  
mass trauma preparedness and response--cdc's injury center  
Emergency Home  l  Injury Home  l  Mass Trauma Home  l  Contact Us  


Mass Trauma > Response Tools > Rapid Assessment 

Overview of Instrument for Rapid Assessment of Injuries and Other Medical Conditions 
If this page does not refresh click here.

Mass Trauma Data Instrument

Related Links

  Rapid Assessment Instrument

  Explanatory Notes

This data instrument will help health departments and other decision-makers collect core data useful for investigating the number, type, timing, and severity of injuries associated with a mass trauma event. The instrument was adapted from a tool initially used to collect information about injuries among survivors of the World Trade Center bombing. Its contents or format can be modified to accommodate the circumstances of a particular mass trauma event. Each data element is defined in the Explanatory Notes (Accessible PDF requires Acrobat Reader 5.0.) so that a local or state health department can quickly train and dispatch workers to collect comparable injury data from area hospitals or where other casualties are treated. These data can then be provided to decision-makers to help guide public health responses to the mass trauma event or provide the basis for more in-depth investigations. For further guidance about implementing the data instrument or assistance with data analysis, send an email to CDCís Injury Center at The first version of data entry software, based on Microsoft Accessģ, is currently being tested.


Timing the Assessment 

The sooner a rapid assessment begins, the quicker state and local public health authorities can respond to circumstances specific to the event. Most survivors of the event will likely have been examined by health care personnel within 16 hours after the event. By this time, the local or state health department can begin a rapid assessment of casualties.


Selecting the Hospital(s) for Assessment

Public health authorities should first define the occurrence or sting of occurrences that constitute the mass trauma event. The location or particular circumstances of the event will determine which hospital emergency departments, trauma facilities, or other field hospitals are being used to care for casualties. Then, public health authorities may decide that either a sample or a complete accounting of casualties is most appropriate for a rapid assessment. 


Assembling and Training Public Health Workers

Public health workers from local or state health departments can be trained to use the data abstraction form. However, public health workers with experience in medical chart abstraction or surveillance would be better suited for initial data collection.

Working with Hospitals to Assure Access and Confidentiality

Health departments will need to work with hospital representatives to gain access to medical records from selected hospital facilities. A high-ranking public health official should explain, either through direct communication or through a formal letter, the purpose and crucial importance of the rapid assessment to the public health emergency response, and how confidentiality of medical records will be maintained. In some circumstances, public health authorities may be authorized by law to collect or receive such information for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease.

View the instrument.

View the explanatory notes (Accessible PDF Requires Acrobat Reader 5.0).

Content last revised 3/10/03. 

CDC Public Health Emergency Home   l   CDC Injury Home   l   Mass Trauma  l   Contact Us

CDC Home | CDC Search | Health Topics A-Z

Privacy Notice - Accessibility

This page last reviewed 08/04/04.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Center for Injury Prevention and Control