Publicatie datum

Health impact of the Volendam discotheque fire.

Dorn, T., IJzermans, C.J. Health impact of the Volendam discotheque fire. European Journal of Public Health: 2003, 13(4 sup) 135. Abstract. 11th Annual Eupha Meeting 'Globalisation and Health in Europe: Harmonising Public Health Practices'. Rome, Italy, 20-22 November 2003.
Background: On January 1st, 2001, a fire occurred in an overcrowded pub in the Dutch city of Volendam where young people were celebrating New Year’s Eve. As a result, a total of 14 youngsters died, 250 were injured, and 60 suffer from severe burn injuries. Since Volendam is a small and close-knit community (20.000 inhabitants), we expect adverse
health effects not only for the survivors of the disaster, but also for the families and peers of those dead or injured.
Aim: The purpose of the study is to evaluate the health impact of the discotheque fire. The study aims to be pro-active in gathering data and material about the health situation and care needs from as many victims and health practitioners as possible, in order to provide optimum aftercare. Methods: Longitudinal data are gathered at GPs practices through a
computerized reporting procedure. Since the reporting procedure was already operational one year pre-disaster, baseline information is available. The monitoring provides information about the number of medical consultations and the type of health problems patients present to their GPs. It covers a 3-year period (2000-2002). Health problems are coded according to the International Classification of Primary Care (ICPC) and then summarized into clusters. In general, the following sub-groups are under study: (1) youngsters present during the fire, (2) their parents and (3) their brothers and sisters. Other Volendam patients serve as a reference group. Patients from other Dutch GP-practices are used as control group. Both reference and control groups are stratified for age and sex. Control practices are comparable in respect to income and degree of urbanisation. Results: Youngsters who had been present during the fire, as well as their family members, show a significant increase of health care consumption in the 4-week-period immediately after the fire. Also in the period two-years post-disaster, their health care consumption remains at an elevated level when compared to the pre-disasterperiod. Furthermore, results demonstrate that the parents of youngsters who had been present during the fire, present significantly more health problems to their GP than the Volendam reference group and the control group. Pre- and post-disaster differences are most striking for psychosocial and locomotive problems. Equally, the youngsters themselves present more health problems than their reference and control group. Here, differences are most obvious for problems related to injuries, respiratory and psychosocial complaints. Furthermore, the health problems of the reference group (Volendam patients) differ from the control group (other Dutch GP-patients), in several ways: patients in Volendam report less psychosocial and more respiratory and locomotive problems. These differences are already present one year pre-disaster. Conclusions: As a consequence of the Volendam discotheque fire, the health of the fire victims and their families is worse than in the comparison groups. A continuous monitoring can help to make informed decision in respect to appropriate after-care. (aut. ref.)