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We report the development, implementation, and results of a sustainable region-wide mass-casualty management prehospital training program implemented by the Regione Lombardia emergency medical services (EMS) agency AREU in Italy.
The educational program learning objectives are: (1) command and control, communications, and resource management; (2) mass casualty triage and the START triage protocol; (3) on-scene management; (4) Regione Lombardia and AREU Mass Casualty standard operating procedures; and (5) inter-agency communications and relations. For each course edition data on participants’ summative assessment, participants’ feedback and costs were collected.
Between June 26, 2013, and December 31, 2020, a total of 84 editions of the provider training event were delivered, training an overall 1329 prehospital providers; 1239 (93%) passed the summative assessment and were qualified as being operationally “ready.” Regarding participant feedback, the overall program was rated 4.4 ± 0.7 out of 5. The overall cost of running the provider program during the study period was €321 510 (circa US $382 000). The average cost per edition was €3828 and €242 per participant.
We have described a simple yet interactive simulation and blended-learning approach, which has yielded good pass rates, good participant satisfaction, and contained costs to systematically train emergency medical service personnel.
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.
Anesthesiologists play a pivotal role in mass-casualty incidents management. Disaster medicine is part of the anesthesiologist’s core skills; however, dedicated training is still scarce and, often, it does not follow a standardized program.
We designed and delivered a crash course in disaster medicine for Italian anesthesiology residents participating in the nationwide program, Italian Society of Anesthesia, Analgesia, Resuscitation and Intensive Care (SIAARTI) Academy Critical Emergency Medicine 2019. Residents totaling 145, from 39 programs, participated in a 75-minute workstation on the principles of disaster management. Following this, each participant was involved in a full-scale mass-casualty drill. A plenary debriefing followed to present simulation data, maximize feedback, and highlight all situations needing improvement.
Overall, participant performance was good: Triage accuracy was 85% prehospital and 84% in-hospital. Evacuation flow respected triage priority. During the debriefing, residents were very open to share and reflect on their experiences. A narrative qualitative analysis of the debriefing highlights that many participants felt overwhelmed by events during the exercise. Participants in coordination positions shared how they appreciated the need to switch from a clinical mindset to a managerial role.
This was an invaluable experience for anesthesiology trainees, providing them with the skill set to understand the fundamental principles of a mass-casualty response.
Over the last decades, humanitarian crises have seen a sharp upward trend. Regrettably, physicians involved in humanitarian action have often demonstrated incomplete preparation for these compelling events which have proved to be quite different from their daily work. Responders to these crises have included an unpredictable mix of beginner-level, mid-level, and expert-level providers. The quality of care has varied considerably. The international humanitarian community, in responding to international calls for improved accountability, transparency, coordination, and a registry of professionalized international responders, has recently launched a call for further professionalization within the humanitarian assistance sector, especially among academic-affiliated education and training programs. As anesthetists have been involved traditionally in medical relief operations, and recent disasters have seen a massive engagement of young physicians, the authors conducted, as a first step, a poll among residents in Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine in Italy to evaluate their interest in participating in competency-based humanitarian assistance education and in training incorporated early in residencies.
The Directors of all the 39 accredited anesthesia/critical care training programs in Italy were contacted and asked to submit a questionnaire to their residents regarding the objectives of the poll study. After acceptance to participate, residents were enrolled and asked to complete a web-based poll.
A total of 29 (74%) of the initial training programs participated in the poll. Out of the 1,362 questionnaires mailed to residents, 924 (68%) were fully completed and returned. Only 63(6.8%) of the respondents voiced prior participation in humanitarian missions, but up to 690 (74.7%) stated they were interested in participating in future humanitarian deployments during their residency that carried over into their professional careers. Countrywide, 896 (97%) favored prior preparation for residents before participating in humanitarian missions, while the need for a specific, formal, professionalization process of the entire humanitarian aid sector was supported by 889 (96.2%).
In Italy, the majority of anesthesia/critical care residents, through a formal poll study, affirmed interest in participating in humanitarian assistance missions and believe that further professionalization within the humanitarian aid sector is required. These results have implications for residency training programs worldwide.
Ripoll GallardoA, IngrassiaPL, RagazzoniL, DjalaliA, CarenzoL, BurkleFMJr, Della CorteF. Professionalization of Anesthesiologists and Critical Care Specialists in Humanitarian Action: A Nationwide Poll Among Italian Residents. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2015;30(1):1-6.
In recent years, effective models of disaster medicine curricula for medical schools have been established. However, only a small percentage of medical schools worldwide have considered at least basic disaster medicine teaching in their study program. In Italy, disaster medicine has not yet been included in the medical school curriculum. Perceiving the lack of a specific course on disaster medicine, the Segretariato Italiano Studenti in Medicina (SISM) contacted the Centro di Ricerca Interdipartimentale in Medicina di Emergenza e dei Disastri ed Informatica applicata alla didattica e alla pratica Medica (CRIMEDIM) with a proposal for a nationwide program in this field. Seven modules (introduction to disaster medicine, prehospital disaster management, definition of triage, characteristics of hospital disaster plans, treatment of the health consequences of different disasters, psychosocial care, and presentation of past disasters) were developed using an e-learning platform and a 12-hour classroom session which involved problem-based learning (PBL) activities, table-top exercises, and a computerized simulation (Table 1). The modules were designed as a framework for a disaster medicine curriculum for undergraduates and covered the three main disciplines (clinical and psychosocial, public health, and emergency and risk management) of the core of “Disaster Health” according to the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM) international guidelines for disaster medicine education. From January 2011 through May 2013, 21 editions of the course were delivered to 21 different medical schools, and 524 students attended the course. The blended approach and the use of simulation tools were appreciated by all participants and successfully increased participants’ knowledge of disaster medicine and basic competencies in performing mass-casualty triage. This manuscript reports on the designing process and the initial outcomes with respect to learners' achievements and satisfaction of a 1-month educational course on the fundamentals of disaster medicine. This experience might represent a valid and innovative solution for a disaster medicine curriculum for medical students that is easily delivered by medical schools.Table 1
List of Modules and Topics
1. Introduction to disaster medicine and public health during emergencies
- Modern taxonomy of disaster and common disaster medicine definitions
- Differences between disaster and emergency medicine
- Principles of public health during disasters
- Different phases of disaster management
2. Prehospital disaster management
- Mass-casualty disposition, treatment area, and transport issues
- Disaster plans and command-and-control chain structure
- Functional response roles
3. Specific disaster medicine and triage procedures in the
- Mass-casualty triage definitions and principles
management of disasters
- Different methodologies and protocols
- Patient assessment, triage levels and tags
4. Hospital disaster preparedness and response
- Hospital disaster laws
- Hospital preparedness plans for in-hospital and out-hospital disasters with an all-hazard approach
- Medical management for a massive influx of casualties
5. Health consequences of different disasters
- Characteristics of different types of disasters
- Health impact of natural and man-made disasters
- Disaster-related injury after exposure to a different disasters with an all-hazard approach
6. Psychosocial care
- Techniques to deal with psychic reactions caused by exposure to disaster scenarios
- Treatment approaches to acute and delayed critical incident stress reactions
7. Presentation of past disasters and public health emergencies, and
review of assistance experiences
- Haiti earthquake
- Cholera outbreaks in Haiti
- National and international disaster response mechanism
IngrassiaPL, RagazzoniL, TengattiniM, CarenzoL, Della CorteF. Nationwide Program of Education for Undergraduates in the Field of Disaster Medicine: Development of a Core Curriculum Centered on Blended Learning and Simulation Tools. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(5):1-8.
The assessment of hospital disaster preparedness and response performance is a way to find and remove possible gaps and weaknesses in hospital disaster management effectiveness. The aim of this pilot study was to test the association between the level of preparedness and the level of response performance during a full-scale hospital exercise.
This pilot study was conducted in a hospital during a full-scale exercise in the Piedmont region of Italy. The preparedness evaluation was conducted by a group of three experts, three days before the exercise, and the response evaluation was conducted during the exercise. The functional capacity module was used for preparedness evaluation, and the response performance of the “command and control” function of the hospital was evaluated by nine semiquantitative performance indicators.
The preparedness of the chosen hospital was 59%, while the response performance was evaluated as 70%. The hospital staff conducted Simple Triage and Rapid Transport (START) triage while they received 61 casualties, which was 90% correct for the yellow group and 100% correct for the green group.
This pilot study showed that it is possible to use standardized evaluations tools, to simultaneously assess the relationship between preparedness elements and response performance measures. An experimental study including a group of hospitals, also using more comprehensive evaluation tools, should be done to evaluate the correlation between the level of preparedness and the response performance of a hospital, and the impact of hospital disaster planning, on the outcome of disasters victims.
DjalaliA, CarenzoL, RagazzoniL, AzzarettoM, PetrinoR, Della CorteF, IngrassiaPL. Does Hospital Disaster Preparedness Predict Response Performance During a Full-scale Exercise? A Pilot Study. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(4):1-7.
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