Involvement of local municipalities in promoting emergency preparedness has been recognized as a key factor to build a resilient community. As part of the efforts to build and maintain knowledge and capabilities, the Israeli Ministry of Health initiated a series of conferences aimed at capacity building of city councils to provide services to the population following disasters.
6 conferences have been planned for the years 2010-2011 in which 250 senior administrative employees from all municipalities, responsible for the health status in their communities are expected to participate. Each conference covers a variety of emergency scenarios, including biological events, regional hostilities and management of massive Acute Stress Reactions among the civilian population. Pre-post tests based on Multiple Choice Questions are conducted before and following each conference to identify impact of the training program.
Findings from the pre-post tests conducted up to date showed a significant increase in all elements included in the training program. The average knowledge scores of the pre-post tests were 33% and 79% respectively. The highest increases in level of knowledge were found in regard to deployment of community centers for light casualties in chemical warfare scenarios (48% and 100% respectively) and concerning population that requires evacuation during emergencies (68% to 100% respectively). Overall levels of knowledge regarding community treatment centers in biological events were relatively low both before and after the training (16% and 44% respectively).
Training local municipalities' personnel is crucial in order to promote emergency preparedness. Raising knowledge regarding response to newly emerging threats (such as deployment of exposure centers in biological events) was found to be more complex in comparison to well-recognized hazards (such as deployment of community treatment centers in chemical warfare). There is a need to conduct follow-up studies to determine the retention of knowledge over time.