Panna Lossy, MD

"When we arrived at the high school gym as volunteer medical providers during the 2017 wildfires in California, we were shocked to find hundreds of elderly, frail and disabled people in their nightclothes. The majority had arrived without medications, glasses, walkers or any medical records. The need for medical providers to help was obvious. The structure needed to provide care was sorely lacking. There was no system to chart, get medicines, manage volunteers, and no one seemed to be in charge of this part of the care at the evacuation center."—Panna Lossy, MD

This website is intended to provide quick, easily accessible solutions to common problems for people who find themselves providing basic health care in an disaster shelter. Of course every disaster is different. In some situations there might be no need for health care in the shelter because the surrounding hospitals and clinics can provide it. Or there may be a very serious disaster where the hospitals and health centers are destroyed and there may be a need for a field hospital. This website does NOT cover those situations.

Disaster CrashCart provides ideas on how to set up systems to provide basic medical care, triage, and manage common issues that arise in evacuation centers. This is meant as a supplement to any plans that government and nongovernmental organizations may already have in place. Use your judgment and take what works in your situation!

If you are the kind of person who will volunteer when disaster strikes your town, you should sign up NOW with the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers and Medical Reserve Corps.

We view this as a living document that can be improved as we learn more about how to manage medical care in shelter situations. If you have experiences/ links you would like to share, please email us at


Most shelters do not have any computers or established way to chart on people. We recommend using paper "charts", organized alphabetically in a portable file. Learn More

Organizing the Shelter

Set up the medical area in a central area where you can see they whole shelter but think about how you can have some private space for exams. Learn More

Managing Volunteers

Managing volunteers is often overwhelming. Using an online sign up system like Sign Up Genius can be a HUGE help. It allows you to send people. Learn More