In order to address the challenges that natural and manmade disasters pose, the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine is hosting a Consensus Conference on the "Science of Surge" on May 17, 2006, at the San Francisco Marriott in conjunction with its Annual Meeting (May 18-21). It features keynote speakers, lectures for scientific content experts, interactive facilitated small group sessions, and interactive conference attendee voting on key consensus issues.
The U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Richard Carmona, will address the entire SAEM Annual Meeting on the topic of the Medical Reserve Corps as a tool to augment surge capacity on Thursday, May 18 immediately following the Opening Reception at 6:30 PM.
Surge capacity, the ability of a hospital or healthcare system to meet extraordinary needs of the community in the event of a manmade or natural catastrophe, is an important measure of disaster preparedness. Hospitals also deal with daily surge, a concept related to disaster surge, but with different characteristics. Both of these concepts are a mainstay of emergency medicine, but the creation or maintenance of surge capacity as related to health care and public health draws upon many disciplines and resources.
While surge capacity is critical to the national healthcare safety net and public health system, its scientific underpinnings are varied and ill-defined. The conference focuses almost exclusively on defining the scientific parameters of surge capacity and avoids simple reviews of current practices.
The Chair of the Consensus Conference, Gabe Kelen MD, comments on the importance of the