A modern analysis of a historical pediatric disaster: The 1927 Bath school bombing

David Kim, Benjamin D. Mosher, Chet A. Morrison, Carol Parker-Lee, Razvan C. Opreanu, Penny Stevens, Sarah Moore, John P. Kepros

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Children have unique anatomy and physiology that may necessitate a unique approach to a pediatric surge. An analysis of the Bath school bombings of 1927, the largest pediatric terrorist disaster in U.S. history, provides an opportunity to gain perspective on pediatric patterns of injury and future disaster preparedness. Materials and Methods: Eighty-nine contemporary newspaper accounts, the official coroner's inquest, interviews, online resources, and the Michigan state archives of the disaster were reviewed with respect to the demographics, pattern of injury, gender, age, duration of hospitalization, relative distance of each classroom from the blast, and severity of injuries sustained using the Injury Severity Scale (ISS). Results: Eighty-seven children and three teachers were unable to safely evacuate the building; 36 children (41%) were dead on-site, 40 sustained mild injuries (76.9%), nine sustained moderate injuries (17.3%), and one sustained serious injuries (1.9%). Mean ISS scores decreased with increasing relative distance of each classroom from the primary blast, while the classrooms involved in structural collapse had the highest initial mortality and ISS score. Patterns of injury sustained imply a predominance of crush and penetrating trauma. Conclusions: Mean ISS scores and initial mortality by classroom were a function of proximity to the blast and structural collapse. The pattern of injury closely approximates those of other pediatric disasters such as Columbine, Oklahoma City, and 911. The absence of severe abdominal trauma and one reported hospital mortality may reflect an initial under-triage of patients, possibly due to the medical technology of the times.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-316
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2010


  • Bath School
  • Bath bombing
  • Bath disaster
  • Injury Severity Scale
  • domestic terrorism
  • historical disaster
  • patterns of injury
  • pediatric bombing
  • pediatric trauma
  • terrorism


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