Table of Contents
ISRN Emergency Medicine
Volume 2012, Article ID 859783, 5 pages
Research Article

Challenges Faced by the Intensive Care Unit during a Terrorist Attack: The Riyadh Experience

College of Medicine, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, P.O. Box 22490, Riyadh 11426, Saudi Arabia

Received 24 June 2012; Accepted 1 August 2012

Academic Editors: A. Pazin-Filho and C. Roberto

Copyright © 2012 Abdullah Al-Shimemeri. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Globally, we are facing a “terror epidemic” with incidences of terrorist attacks on innocent civilians increasing worldwide. The volume and nature of injuries resulting from such attacks challenge even the most sophisticated and well-prepared trauma systems and health institutions. Over seventy percent of terror attacks involve bomb explosions with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) resulting in a unique pattern of injuries to the victims. Here, we present data on the terrorist attacks on the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, between March 1991 to the present and discuss in retrospect the event outcomes and features which may be useful for the preparedness of the intensive care unit (ICU) in the wake of future attacks. Methods. Data from nine hospitals in Riyadh that catered to patients during terrorist strikes were collected retrospectively. Details of the incidents were collected from news media archives. Results. The majority of terror strikes (~80%) involved a bomb blast with the use of explosives. The victims included 148 casualties, 45 hospitalizations, 103 discharges after first aid, and 3 incidences of admission to the critical care unit. Conclusion. Using the Riyadh experience, we analyze data and the series of events in the ICU following terrorist explosions. The analysis provides important insights for the trauma unit so that it is better prepared and organized for such incidents in the future.