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Disasters or mass-casualty incidents are uncommon events. The use of simulation is an ideal training modality in full-scale exercises as it immerses the participants in a replication of the actual environment where they can respond to simulated casualties in accordance with existing protocols.
The objective of this scoping review is to answer the research question: “How effective is simulation, as assessed in full-scale exercises, for response to disasters and mass-casualty incidents world-wide?” Studies on full-scale exercises, as defined in World Health Organization (WHO) simulation exercise toolbox, that were published in peer-reviewed journals using the English language from 2001 through 2021 were included. Twenty studies were included from searching PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science. Simulated casualties were the most common simulation modality. Using Kirkpatrick’s levels of evaluation to synthesize the data, simulation was reported to be generally effective and mostly demonstrated at the levels of learning of individuals and/or systems, as well as reaction of individuals. Evaluations at levels of behavior and results were limited due to the uncommon nature of disasters and mass-casualty incidents. However, evaluation outcomes across the full-scale exercises were varied, leading to the inability to consolidate effectiveness of simulation into a single measure. It is recommended for best evidence-based practices for simulation to be adhered to in full-scale exercises so that the trainings could translate into better outcomes for casualties during an actual disaster or mass-casualty incident. In addition, the reporting of simulation use in full-scale exercises should be standardized using a framework, and the evaluation process should be rigorous so that effectiveness could be determined and compared across full-scale exercises.
A Mass Casualty Incident response (MCI) full scale exercise (FSEx) assures MCI first responder (FR) competencies. Simulation and serious gaming platforms (Simulation) have been considered to achieve and maintain FR competencies. The translational science (TS) T0 question was asked: how can FRs achieve similar MCI competencies as a FSEx through the use of MCI simulation exercises?
T1 stage (Scoping Review): PRISMA-ScR was conducted to develop statements for the T2 stage modified Delphi (mD) study. 1320 reference titles and abstracts were reviewed with 215 full articles progressing for full review leading to 97 undergoing data extraction.
T2 stage (mD study): Selected experts were presented with 27 statements derived from T1 data with instruction to rank each statement on a 7-point linear numeric scale, where 1 = disagree and 7 = agree. Consensus amongst experts was defined as a standard deviation ≤ 1.0.
After 3 mD rounds, 19 statements attained consensus and 8 did not attain consensus.
MCI simulation exercises can be developed to achieve similar competencies as FSEx by incorporating the 19 statements that attained consensus through the TS stages of a scoping review (T1) and mD study (T2), and continuing to T3 implementation, and then T4 evaluation stages.
In response to the global upward trend of humanitarian emergencies, the humanitarian health workforce has grown substantially in the last decades. Still, humanitarian education and training programs are limited in availability, geographical locations, and teaching methods, and are too expensive for local respondents. To address these gaps, an e-learning tool for humanitarian public health has been developed and evaluated.
Action research was used to develop the e-Learning tool. Rapid prototyping–a modified analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation (ADDIE) model, was used to identify the content and instructional design. This iterative process involved consultations and feedback from public health and disaster medicine instructors and students at different levels and training programs from within and outside CRIMEDIM. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Quantitative data were appropriately summarized. Pre/post-test change in knowledge score was tested with paired t-test.
Although different levels of training are needed, targeting health professionals at the entry-level in the humanitarian field is identified as a priority. Scenario-based e-Simulation covers health needs assessment, essential health services, communicable diseases standards, and the health system was developed and evaluated. Trainees were highly satisfied by the clear objectives, the realism of the simulated scenarios, quizzes, and interactivity. In the 1-7 numerical scale, the median for overall experience satisfaction was 6.3 (IQR=5.3-7, N=35). The mean of the post-test score was 7.71, which was significantly higher than the mean of the pre-test score of 5.88. The large effect size of 1.179 indicates the training effectiveness. Poor internet was identified as a potential barrier to delivering the training.
This participatory study resulted in the development of effective Scenario-based e-Simulation. Offline mode of training will be adapted for trainees with poor internet connection settings. Successful factors in instructional design will be used to inform the development of advanced training in the field.
Sierra Leone, one of the countries with the highest maternal and perinatal mortality in the world, launched its first National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS) in 2018. We carried out a countrywide assessment to analyze NEMS operational times for obstetric emergencies with access to timely essential surgery within 2 hours. Moreover, we evaluated the relationship between operational times and maternal and perinatal mortality.
We collected prehospital data of 6,387 obstetric emergency referrals from primary health units to hospital facilities between June 2019 and May 2020 and we estimated the proportion of referrals with a prehospital time (PT) within 2 hours. The association between PT and mortality was investigated using Poisson regression models for binary data.
At the national level, the proportion of emergency obstetric referrals with a PT within 2 hours was 58.5% (95% CI 56.9% to 60.1%) during the rainy season and 61.4% (95% CI 59.5% to 63.2%) during the dry season. Results were substantially different between districts, with the capital city of Freetown reporting more than 90% of referrals within the benchmark and some rural districts less than 40%. Risk of maternal death at 60, 120, and 180 min of PT was 1.8%, 3.8%, and 4.3%, respectively. Corresponding figures for perinatal mortality were 16%, 18%, and 25%.
NEMS operational times for obstetric emergencies in Sierra Leone vary greatly and referral transports in rural areas struggle to reach essential surgery within two hours. Maternal and perinatal risk of death increased concurrently with operational times, even beyond the two-hour target, therefore, any reduction of the time to reach the hospital may translate into improved patient outcomes.
The challenges that the health systems face in the last years increased exponentially. No matter if we are talking about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or the Russian military action in Ukraine, the European health ecosystem is facing new problems. In the light of these uncertainties, we assessed which could be the next trends that can impact the healthcare systems, in order to better prepare and adapt to the new contexts.
Using two foresights exercises (FSE), one in 2018 and the second one in 2022, we identified the most important trends in the political, economic, social, technological, security, environmental and medical sectors that could have an impact on health.
53 people participated in the first FSE and 40 in the second one. The respondents identified cyber security, an increased reliance on digital technologies for communications, CBRNE management of the patients, centrally coordinated attacks, demographic aging, reduced economic resources, violence against emergency medical staff and the increased need and demand for psychosocial support as the most important trends. Moreover, they considered that wars, hybrid threats, the fake news, pandemics and the influence of artificial intelligence could impact the healthcare systems.
Many of the trends identified in 2018 as having a possible impact on the health system proved to be relevant four years later. Therefore, we consider the FSE a relevant tool in foreseeing the main areas that could have an impact on health and its results could guide the preparedness for the future.
Disaster Medicine (DM) is currently underrepresented in medical schools’ curricula worldwide, and existing DM courses for medical students are extremely heterogeneous due to the lack of pragmatic and standardized guidelines. Moreover, there is a gap in knowledge regarding the curriculum development methodology used for DM courses. This study aims to identify DM courses for medical students worldwide and to map their curriculum development methodologies by reviewing available literature.
The search was conducted on three databases using the terms “Disaster medicine” AND “Education”. Following the PRISMA approach, twenty-five articles that described the content and implementation of DM curricula were included in the analysis.
Nine studies thoroughly described the curriculum development process. Expert opinion and literature review were the methodologies mostly used to develop DM curricula. Only four studies followed a multi-method process made up of four different methodologies, including expert opinion, literature review, survey, and Delphi methodology. Most of the courses adopted a face-to-face approach combining different training modalities, including the use of virtual reality simulations and drills.
This systematic review provides a compendious analysis of the curricula and curriculum development processes in DM training for medical students. The scarce usage of reproductible, comprehensive curriculum development methodologies and consequently a great heterogenicity of the covered topics and course design were brought forward. Therefore, there is a need for standardization in DM education. Overall, this systematic review highlights the need for evidence-based educational curricula in DM and provides recommendations for developing DM courses following a scientific approach.
The response to the COVID-19 crisis implied an unprecedented involvement of the European Union (EU) executive in public health matters. In June 2020, the Member States agreed upon a joint EU Vaccines Strategy, whereby the European Commission was enabled to negotiate, support and allocate vaccine doses on their behalf. Entailing political and redistributive choices, the Commission’s centralised procurement presents some innovative patterns when compared to traditional EU executive action. This paper will focus on the institutionalisation of such patterns within the legal framework of the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA). Did EU administrative law offer appropriate tools for this process? Or did the EU merely formalise the procedural and organisational schemes set up during the crisis? Answers to these questions will contribute to a fuller understanding of the administrative dimension of the new European Health Union and shed light on some recent evolutions of the EU administrative system.
Health workforce development is essential for achieving the goals of an effective health system, as well as establishing national Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management (Health EDRM).
The objective of this Delphi consensus study was to identify strategic recommendations for strengthening the workforce for Health EDRM in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) and high-income countries (HIC).
A total of 31 international experts were asked to rate the level of importance (one being strongly unimportant to seven being strongly important) for 46 statements that contain recommendations for strengthening the workforce for Health EDRM. The experts were divided into a LMIC group and an HIC group. There were three rounds of rating, and statements that did not reach consensus (SD ≥ 1.0) proceeded to the next round for further ranking.
In total, 44 statements from the LMIC group and 34 statements from the HIC group attained consensus and achieved high mean scores for importance (higher than five out of seven). The components of the World Health Organization (WHO) Health EDRM Framework with the highest number of recommendations were “Human Resources” (n = 15), “Planning and Coordination” (n = 7), and “Community Capacities for Health EDRM” (n = 6) in the LMIC group. “Policies, Strategies, and Legislation” (n = 7) and “Human Resources” (n = 7) were the components with the most recommendations for the HIC group.
The expert panel provided a comprehensive list of important and actionable strategic recommendations on workforce development for Health EDRM.
The humanitarian health field has grown rapidly in the last decades. However, education and training programs are still limited in number, especially where it is needed most. Additionally, the cost of the training is too expensive for local humanitarian health respondents. If developed appropriately, E-Learning can potentially address these gaps.
Develop an effective E-Learning tool for humanitarian public health training.
The tool was developed using an institutional-based, action research method. Rapid prototyping - a modified analysis, design, development, implementation, and evaluation (ADDIE) model - was used to identify the content and instructional design. This iterative process involved consultations and feedback from public health and disaster medicine instructors and students at different levels and training programs. Different methods were used to collect and analyze data, such as literature and courses reviews, observation, interviews, and questionnaires.
Four scenario-based E-Simulations - targeting entry-level humanitarian health professionals - were developed and piloted based on identified needs. Formative evaluation clarified training objectives and structure. Trainees were satisfied by the simulated scenario, interactivity, questions, and timely feedback. Poor internet was identified as a potential barrier to delivering the training in the humanitarian context.
Clear objectives and quality content are the prerequisites for training effectiveness. Yet, instructional design is a critical element that can enhance training effectiveness. The tool’s offline mode is being adapted to improve access in poor internet connection settings. A summative evaluation will be conducted to measure the training’s effectiveness. Furthermore, successful factors in instructional design will be used to inform the development of advanced training in the field.
This paper provides a stochastic model, consistent with Solvency II and the Delegated Regulation, to quantify the capital requirement for demographic risk. In particular, we present a framework that models idiosyncratic and trend risks exploiting a risk theory approach in which results are obtained analytically. We apply the model to non-participating policies and quantify the Solvency Capital Requirement for the aforementioned risks in different time horizons.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed a gap in disaster preparedness of health workers globally. Disaster medicine education is a key element to fill this gap.
This study evaluated the involvement of the European Master in Disaster Medicine (EMDM) Alumni in the current COVID-19 pandemic response and their self-perceived value of the EMDM educational program in accomplishing their tasks during the disaster.
An online survey targeting the EMDM Alumni was conducted from January through March 2021. Quantitative data were described using percentages or means, as appropriate, while qualitative data were categorized using deductive thematic analysis.
In total, 259 Alumni completed the survey. Most of the Alumni (88.03%; standard error of the proportion [SEp] = 0.02) participated directly in the COVID-19 pandemic response – nationally or internationally – with different roles and responsibilities at different levels and sectors. Around 25% of the Alumni reported an increase in their tasks and responsibilities due to COVID-19 response, but few worked beyond their main specialization (5.26%) or expertise (2.19%). Moreover, Alumni shifted their role from clinical practice to managerial, public health, education and training, and policymaking roles during COVID-19 (P <.001). Participants believed that the EMDM study program and the competencies acquired during the course were relevant and useful to perform their tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic response (mean = 5.26; 5.17 standard error of the mean [SEM] = 0.108, 0.107), respectively. Around 36% (SEp = 0.03) of the participants deemed that some contents were not sufficient for COVID-19 response.
Most of the EMDM Alumni were involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response, playing diverse roles with an increased level of responsibility compared to those played before the pandemic. Moreover, the Alumni perceived the EMDM curriculum as relevant for accomplishing their tasks. However, they also reported gaps within the curriculum, especially topics related to outbreak and pandemic response. The findings of the study stress the value of investing in disaster medicine education world-wide and of pushing to update and standardize post-graduate disaster medicine curricula.
Asymmetric warfare and the reaction to its threats have implications in the way far-forward medical assistance is provided in such settings. Investments in far-forward emergency resuscitation and stabilization can contribute to saving lives and increase the resilience of health systems. Thus, it is proposed to extend the use of the Haddon Matrix to determine a set of strategies to better understand and prioritize activities to prepare for and set-up frontline care in the form of Trauma Stabilization Points (TSPs).
An expert consensus methodology was used to achieve the research aim. A small subject matter experts’ group was convened to create and validate the content of the Haddon Matrix.
The result of the expert group consultations presented an overview of TSP Preparedness and Operational Readiness activities within a Haddon Matrix framework. Main strategies to be adopted within the cycle from pre- to post-event had been identified and presented considering the identified opportunities in the context of the possibility of implementation. Of particular importance was the revision of a curriculum that fits the civilian medical system and facilitates its adaptation to the context and available resources.
The new framework to enhance frontline care preparedness and response using the Haddon Matrix facilitated the identification of a set of strategies to support frontline health care workers in a more efficient manner. Since the existing approach and tools are insufficient for modern warfare, additional research is needed.
Disasters may have major impacts to mental health and to the utilization of mental health services (MHS). Moreover, these effects may be worsened by the preclusion of access to basic services following the event. The aim of this study is to evaluate the utilization of public MHS by the population that suffered water supply interruption following the Mariana Dam Failure in Brazil, 2015.
We conducted an Interrupted Time Series analyzing secondary health data from the municipalities that faced water supply interruption, comparing it to data from the other municipalities of Minas Gerais state.
We found a higher immediate (RR: 1.78; 95% CI: 1.25–2.53) and gradual (RR: 1.05; 95% CI: 1.03–1.06) change in the rate of mental health visits (MHV) in the affected population following the event, whereas there was an immediate fall (RR: 0.41; 95% CI: 0.29–0.59) followed by a higher gradual increase (RR: 1.04; 95% CI: 1.02–1.06) in the rate of hospital admissions (HA) in the affected population.
The results suggest that there was an increase in the utilization of public MHS by the population that suffered water supply interruption following the disaster.
In mass casualty scenarios, patients with apparent hemodynamic and respiratory stability might have occult life-threatening injuries. These patients could benefit from more accurate triage methods. This study assessed the impact of point-of-care ultrasound on the accuracy of secondary triage conducted at an advanced medical post to enhance the detection of patients who, despite their apparent clinically stable condition, could benefit from earlier evacuation to definitive care or immediate life-saving treatment.
A mass casualty simulated event consisting of a bomb blast in a remote area was conducted with 10 simulated casualties classified as YELLOW at the primary triage scene; patients were evaluated by 4 physicians at an advanced medical post. Three patients had, respectively, hemoperitoneum, pneumothorax, and hemothorax. Only 2 physicians had sonographic information.
All 4 physicians were able to suspect hemoperitoneum as a possible critical condition to be managed first, but only physicians with additional sonographic information accurately detected pneumothorax and hemothorax, thus deciding to immediately evacuate or treat.
Nepal female community health volunteers (FCHVs) were the first available health personnel in communities during the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. This study explored the facilitating factors and barriers of the FCHVs during health emergencies.
In-depth interviews with 24 FCHVs and 4 health managers from 2 districts in Nepal (Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk) were conducted using semi-structured interview guides. The qualitative data were analyzed using thematic analysis methods.
FCHVs were the first responders to provide services after the earthquakes and were well accepted by the local communities. Different models of supervision existed, and differences in the workload and remuneration offered to FCHVs were described. A wide range of disaster-related knowledge and skills were required by FCHVs, and lack of prior training was an issue for some respondents. Furthermore, lack of access to adequate medical supplies was a major barrier for FCHVs in the 2015 earthquakes. The 5 identified themes were discussed.
Providing regular disaster response training for FCHVs and strong leadership from the public sector with sustained investments will be essential for increasing the capacities of community health workforces to prepare for and reduce the impacts of future health emergencies in resource-poor settings.
Mass-casualty incidents (MCIs) and disasters are characterized by a high heterogeneity of effects and may pose important logistic challenges that could hamper the emergency rescue operations.
The main objective of this study was to establish the most frequent logistic challenges (red flags) observed in a series of Italian disasters with a problem-based approach and to verify if the 80-20 rule of the Pareto principle is respected.
A series of 138 major events from 1944 through 2020 with a Disaster Severity Score (DSS) ≥ four and five or more victims were analyzed for the presence of twelve pre-determined red flags.
A Pareto graph was built considering the most frequently observed red flags, and eventual correlations between the number of red flags and the components of the DSS were investigated.
Eight out of twelve red flags covered 80% of the events, therefore not respecting the 80-20 rule; the number of red flags showed a low positive correlation with most of the components of the DSS score. The Pareto analysis showed that potential hazards, casualty nest area > 2.5km2, number of victims over 50, evacuation noria over 20km, number of nests > five, need for extrication, complex access to victims, and complex nest development were the most frequently observed red flags.
Logistic problems observed in MCIs and disaster scenarios do not follow the 80-20 Pareto rule; this demands for careful and early evaluation of different logistic red flags to appropriately tailor the rescue response.
Education and training programs are critical to achieve personnel capacity building and professionalization in the rapidly growing humanitarian health sector. Thus, this study aimed to describe the status of humanitarian health education and training programs world-wide.
A web-based analysis was conducted to identify the available humanitarian health programs. The following characteristics of the training programs were described: geographical location, target audience, prerequisite, qualification, curriculum, content, length, modality of delivery, teaching and assessment methods, and tuition fee.
The search identified a total number of 142 training programs, most of them available in few countries of the global North. Only seven percent of the identified programs qualified for a master’s degree in humanitarian health. Public health was the most identified content (47.2%). Approximately one-half of the training programs (50.7%) were delivered face-to-face. Theoretical knowledge was the most common method used for teaching and assessment. The duration of the training and tuition fees were different for different programs and qualifications, while target audience, prerequisite, and curriculum design were often vaguely described or missing.
The study shows a global inequality in access to humanitarian health training programs due to financial and geographical constraints. The study also reveals gaps in program contents, as well as teaching and assessment methods, all issues that could be addressed by developing cost-effective e-learning and online simulation programs. Lastly, the data from this study provide a learning tool that can be used by humanitarian health educators and training centers to further define and standardize the requirements and competencies of humanitarian health professionals.
A massive explosion have ripped Beirut on August 4, 2020, leaving behind more than 6000 casualties, 800 regular floor admissions, 130 intensive care unit admissions, and over 200 deaths. Buildings were destroyed, hospitals in Beirut were also destroyed, others became nonfunctional. A disaster code was initiated in all the hospitals. Victims were transported by the Lebanese Red Cross or by volunteers to the nearest hospital that was still functional. Hospitals were flooded in patients, the coordination between health care centers was missing. Each hospital was functioning to its maximum capacity. With the many challenges we had, a rapid response was initiated. An effective triage done outside the Emergency had the major role in saving lives. After the Beirut Explosion, an assessment of the disaster plan and a major evaluation of the hospitals’ coordination is needed.
Sierra Leone is one of the least developed low-income countries (LICs), slowly recovering from the effects of a devastating civil war and an Ebola outbreak. The health care system is characterized by chronic shortage of skilled human resources, equipment, and essential medicines. The referral system is weak and vulnerable, with 75% of the country having insufficient access to essential health care. Consequently, Sierra Leone has the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world. This manuscript describes the implementation of a National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS), a project aiming to create the first prehospital emergency medical system in the country. In 2017, a joint venture of Doctors with Africa (CUAMM), Veneto Region, and Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIM) was developed to support the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) in designing and managing the NEMS system, one of the very few structured, fully equipped, and free-of-charge prehospital service in the African continent. The NEMS design was the result of an in-depth research phase that included a preliminary assessment, literature review, and consultations with key stakeholders and managers of similar systems in other African countries. From May 27, 2019, after a timeframe of six months in which all the districts have been progressively trained and made operational, the NEMS became operative at national level. By the end of March 2020, the NEMS operation center (OC) and the 81 ambulances dispatched on the ground handled a total number of 36,814 emergency calls, 35,493 missions, and 31,036 referrals.