Disasters, environmental or man-made, can easily overwhelm medical and workforce resources. Pandemic infectious disease is an example of one such type of mass casualty scenario that has persisted from antiquity to the present age, with novel forms of influenza and other highly contagious zoonotic diseases. In 1918, Influenza A was responsible for 657,000 deaths in the United States alone, and 50 million deaths worldwide. In 1957, the Asian flu killed 70,000 people in the U.S. More recently in 2003, a novel form of the coronavirus caused severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which involved 29 countries, infected more than 8,000 people and killed around 900. In Toronto, three anesthesiologists contracted the virus while performing intubations, despite using the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE).

The media coverage and debates in the scientific community regarding the spread of the novel H1N1 influenza...

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