The Terrorist Bomb Explosion in Bologna, Italy, 1980: An Analysis of the Effects and Injuries Sustained

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In August 1980 a terrorist bomb attack was made on the central railway station of Bologna, Italy. Altogether 291 persons were injured, 73 of whom died at the scene. An analysis of the nature of the injuries and the mechanism by which they occurred showed that three types of bomb injuries could be distinguished: primary blast injuries (pulmonary injuries and flashburns), and secondary and tertiary injuries (concussions, lacerations, and fractures), the latter two types from flying debris set in motion by the blast wave or propulsion of the body. Chest X-ray should be included as a routine part of the examination of blast-injured patients on admission, since many of them develop respiratory insufficiency within 24 hours even when primary symptoms are mild. Because the secondary and tertiary effects of a bomb explosion often lead to multiple injuries, these patients require considerable therapeutic and medical care resources. By an evaluation of the degree of severity of the injuries with use of the AIS (Abbreviated Injury Scale) and ISS (Injury Severity Score) systems, the injurious effects of different types of disasters can be estimated and the findings can serve as a basis for future planning of disaster preparedness.

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