Lessons identified from the terrorist attacks on March 22, 2016: the experiences of the Brussels military burn centre.

Dr Serge Jennes1

1Brussels and Charleroi Burn Wound Center , Seneffe, Belgium


On the 22nd of March 2016, the burn unit of the Queen Astrid military hospital faced a large influx of victims of the terrorist attacks in the National Airport and the Maalbeek Metro station in Brussels. Twenty-three victims with severe blast- and fragmentation injuries, as well as burns, were assessed and triaged. Eighteen of the 23 assessed casualties were brought directly from the explosion site; five were referred from other hospitals. The burn-specific mortality prediction models predicted a low risk of mortality in our burn patients (1.1 + 2.5%). However, the ISS indicated a significantly higher mortality risk of 10% (average ISS of 16.7 + 17%), due of the multiple blast- and fragmentation injuries. This aside, none of the patients died during hospitalization or during follow up.

The staff of the burn unit turned out to be adequately prepared to cope with this mass casualty incident (MCI). They had been primed through practice during previous MCIs involving burn patients, such as the massive gas explosion in an industrial area in Ghislenghien in July 2004 (132 injured, many suffering severe burns) and more recently (November 2015) the admission of eight severely burned patients from a nightclub fire in Bucharest. With this presentation, we would like to emphasize the importance of patient registration; staff, supplies and infrastructure for triage and treatment; damage control resuscitation and surgery; facilities and staff for debridement and wound care; as well as the importance of drills and training.


Anesthesiologist and intensive care physician, Colonel in the Belgium Defence Medical Component, former head of the Brussels burn center and current head of the Charleroi burn center, burn specialist for 20 years, more than 30 articles in peer reviewed papers and books.

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