Earthquake in Pakistan – Italian intervention

Under the coordination of the Department of Civil Protection and upon Government initiative, Italy provides assistance to the population, which particularly needs medical care. The first aid arrives on 11 October, dispatched by the various regional Civil protection units (Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino Alto Adige, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna and the Marches). The Department team is already in Islamabad when the Military air force C130 arrives, and has to identify, in liaison with the Pakistani authorities, the best place to concentrate Italian relief.
It is assigned to the city of Mansehra, with 200,000 inhabitants, located 150 kilometres north of Islamabad. The earthquake has claimed 10,000 people. Housing is mostly damaged, as are schools and hospitals. However, thousands of survivors from destroyed mountain villages are arriving there. A reception centre is set up for evacuees, next to which a field hospital is installed.

The facility is made up of 5 blocks of tents:
1. Triage – registration area: all patients are registered and sent to the appropriate treatment section having passed through triage.
2. Fully-equipped emergency department – laboratory for blood analysis, a unit for testing vital parameters, and computerised radiological equipment.
3. Out-patients’ area – medical examinations, bandaging/plastering of injuries and minor surgery.
4. Operating theatre – made up of two blocks. The first functioning as an operating theatre, the other as a recovery room. Two operations are carried out a day on average.
5. Pharmacy – situated in two adjacent tents.

The hospital area is comprised of 13 tents, for a total of 200 beds. A tent facing Mecca, to be used as a mosque, has also been set up.

On 21 October, the Civil Protection of the Marches region sends new aid for the field hospital: equipment and instrumentation, including a small operating theatre, an adequate supply of medicines, instrumentation for communication and comfort supplies, accompanied by 23 components of the Marches mission.
The Italian team, made up of a group from the Department, one from the Marches mission and a group from the Italian Red Cross, is supported by Pakistani medical staff and local technicians.
The medical team present is composed of surgeons, anaesthetists, internists, an orthopaedic specialist, a gynaecologist, and a paediatrician, assisted by nursing staff and radiology technicians. Most of the patients treated have pathologies caused by the earthquake, so the operations carried out regard mostly trauma to the lower and upper limbs and to the head. Fractured lower limbs represent almost 50% of cases. Later, patients with illnesses not directly related to the earthquake are examined.
Many are found to have serious pathologies related to the cold.
The program of the Department foresees the presence of Italian medical teams until January 2006, when the hospital will be donated to the local authorities, to be inserted in the “Mansehra Hospital Complex”, which also includes the regional hospital made partially unfit for use by the earthquake.
Between 17 October and 21 November approximately 3,000 people came to the field hospital for medical assistance.