Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Original Research

Major incident preparedness and on-site work among Norwegian rescue personnel – a cross-sectional study

Sabina Fattah12*, Andreas J Krüger13, Jan Einar Andersen1, Trond Vigerust14 and Marius Rehn15

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Research and Development, Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation, P.O box 94, Drøbak, 1448, Norway

2 Anaesthesia and Critical Care Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway

3 Department of Anaesthesia and Acute Care, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway

4 Norwegian Air Ambulance, Lørenskog, Norway

5 Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway

For all author emails, please log on.

International Journal of Emergency Medicine 2012, 5:40  doi:10.1186/1865-1380-5-40

Published: 7 November 2012



A major incident has occurred when the number of live casualties, severity, type of incident or location requires extraordinary resources. Major incident management is interdisciplinary and involves triage, treatment and transport of patients. We aimed to investigate experiences within major incident preparedness and management among Norwegian rescue workers.


A questionnaire was answered by 918 rescue workers across Norway. Questions rated from 1 (doesn’t work) to 7 (works excellently) are presented as median and range.


Health-care personnel constituted 34.1% of the participants, firefighters 54.1% and police 11.8%. Training for major incident response scored 5 (1, 7) among health-care workers and 4 (1, 7) among firefighters and police. Preparedness for major incident response scored 5 (1, 7) for all professions. Interdisciplinary cooperation scored 5 (3, 7) among health-care workers and police and 5 (1, 7) among firefighters. Among health-care workers, 77.5% answered that a system for major-incident triage exists; 56.3% had triage equipment available. The majority – 45.1% of health-care workers, 44.7% of firefighters and 60.4% of police – did not know how long it would take to get emergency stretchers to the scene.


Rescue personnel find major incident preparedness and on-scene multidisciplinary cooperation to function well. Some shortcomings are reported with regard to systems for major incident triage, tagging equipment for triage and knowledge about access to emergency stretchers.

Emergency medicine; Major incident; Disaster medicine; Cooperation; Preparedness; Accident; Trauma