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Effective response to a mass-casualty incident (MCI) entails the activation of hospital MCI plans. Unfortunately, there are no tools available in the literature to support hospital responders in predicting the proper level of MCI plan activation. This manuscript describes the scientific-based approach used to develop, test, and validate the PEMAAF score (Proximity, Event, Multitude, Overcrowding, Temporary Ward Reduction Capacity, Time Shift Slot [Prossimità, Evento, Moltitudine, Affollamento, Accorpamento, Fascia Oraria], a tool able to predict the required level of hospital MCI plan activation and to facilitate a coordinated activation of a multi-hospital network.
Three study phases were performed within the Metropolitan City of Milan, Italy: (1) retrospective analysis of past MCI after action reports (AARs); (2) PEMAAF score development; and (3) PEMAAF score validation. The validation phase entailed a multi-step process including two retrospective analyses of past MCIs using the score, a focus group discussion (FGD), and a prospective simulation-based study. Sensitivity and specificity of the score were analyzed using a regression model, Spearman’s Rho test, and receiver operating characteristic/ROC analysis curves.
Results of the retrospective analysis and FGD were used to refine the PEMAAF score, which included six items–Proximity, Event, Multitude, Emergency Department (ED) Overcrowding, Temporary Ward Reduction Capacity, and Time Shift Slot–allowing for the identification of three priority levels (score of 5-6: green alert; score of 7-9: yellow alert; and score of 10-12: red alert). When prospectively analyzed, the PEMAAF score determined most frequent hospital MCI plan activation (>10) during night and holiday shifts, with a score of 11 being associated with a higher sensitivity system and a score of 12 with higher specificity.
The PEMAAF score allowed for a balanced and adequately distributed response in case of MCI, prompting hospital MCI plan activation according to real needs, taking into consideration the whole hospital response network.
The application and provision of prehospital care in disasters and mass-casualty incident response in Europe is currently being explored for opportunities to improve practice. The objective of this translational science study was to align common principles of approach and action and to identify how technology can assist and enhance response. To achieve this objective, the application of a modified Delphi methodology study based on statements derived from key findings of a scoping review was undertaken. This resulted in 18 triage, eight life support and damage control interventions, and 23 process consensus statements. These findings will be utilized in the development of evidence-based prehospital mass-casualty incident response tools and guidelines.
The Novel Integrated Toolkit for Enhanced Pre-Hospital Life Support and Triage in Challenging and Large Emergencies (NIGHTINGALE) project was awarded to a consortium to design an innovative toolkit featuring different technological solutions for prehospital mass casualty incident (MCI) response. Translational science (T) methodology was undertaken to develop evidence-based guidelines for MCI response.
The consortium was divided into three work groups (WGs) MCI Triage, Prehospital Life Support and Damage Control and Prehospital Processes. Each WG previously collected data through the project T1 scoping review stage to provide the foundation for the initial T2 modified Delphi draft statements to present to WG internal focus groups for content and NIGHTINGALE study objectives. Their refined statements proceeded to WG specific external focus groups for further editing to be clear and concise for the following modified Delphi consensus rounds. Final WG statements were presented to modified Delphi experts for their consensus using the STAT59 platform with instruction to rank each statement on a seven-point linear numeric scale, where 1 = disagree and 7 = agree. Consensus amongst experts was defined as a standard deviation ≤1.0.
After three modified Delphi rounds, 18 of 24 statements attained consensus by the MCI Triage experts, eight of 25 by the Prehospital and Life Support and Damage Control experts, and 23 of 28 by the Prehospital Processes experts.
The three work groups will utilize consensus statements during the NIGHTINGALE project T3 phase to create evidence-based MCI response guidelines.
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 European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation funding program awarded the NIGHTINGALE grant to develop a toolkit to support first responders engaged in prehospital (PH) mass casualty incident (MCI) response. To reach the projects’ objectives, the NIGHTINGALE consortium adapted the Translational Science (TS) process. The aim of this study is to perform the first TS (T1) phase PRISMA scoping review to extract data that will be used to guide the creation of the initial evidence-based second TS phase (T2) modified Delphi statements for a subsequent study.
The consortium was divided into three work groups (WGs) MCI triage, Prehospital Life Support and Damage Control (PHLSDC) and Prehospital Processes (PHP). Each WG conducted simultaneous literature searches following the PRISMA extension for scoping review with a common research strategy sharing MCI related search terms and then terms specific for each WG. Final included articles went through data extraction based on identified themes and sub-themes from PH MCI response literature to be used to create the future statements.
The initial search yielded 925 total references to be considered for a title and abstract review (PH Triage 311, PHLSDC 329, PHP 285), then 483 articles for a full reference review (MCI Triage 111, PHLSDC 216, PHP 156) and 155 articles for the database extraction process (MCI Triage 27, PHLSDC 38, PHP 90).
The progression of the study of prehospital MCI response enabled NIGHTINGALE partners to methodically obtain information that will contribute to each WG’s creation of initial T2 modified Delphi statements.
In 2018 Sierra Leone, a country highly prone to disasters, launched its first National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS) aiming to strengthen the provision of essential health services to the population with the long-term goal of creating a resilient health system able to effectively respond to and recover from emergencies. The Center for Research and Training in Disaster Medicine, Humanitarian Aid, and Global Health (CRIMEDIM), together with the Italian NGO Doctors with Africa (CUAMM), under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), developed a prehospital Disaster Training Package (DTP) delivered to all NEMS personnel to boost the prehospital management of mass-casualty incidents (MCIs) and outbreaks.
The DTP was designed following the six-step approach to curriculum and training development with the ultimate goal of creating a workforce comprising qualified emergency responders with specific professional competencies to respond to outbreaks and MCIs. The DTP included a first phase in which NEMS local trainers underwent a training-of-trainers (ToT) course, enabling them to deliver cascade trainings to 16 district ambulance supervisors, 441 paramedics, 441 ambulance drivers, and 36 operators working in the NEMS operation center.
Starting on July 19, 2021, the ToT course was delivered to the seven national trainers. All trainers successfully passed the final examination and achieved high scores in the practical sessions, demonstrating active participation, commitment to the project, and good awareness. Following the ToT course, the series of cascade trainings started on August 2, 2021, delivered by the just-trained national trainers under the direct supervision of the two training managers.
The NEMS’ DTP is the very first Disaster Medicine training course delivered to prehospital healthcare providers in Sierra Leone. The authors believe that the provision of the DTP to all NEMS personnel has the potential to improve Disaster Medicine culture among health professionals in the Country.
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.
Sierra Leone is a country highly prone to disasters, still recovering from the catastrophic 2014 Ebola epidemic. In 2018, the country launched its first National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS) aiming to strengthen the provision of essential health services to the population with the long-term goal of creating a resilient health system able to effectively respond to and recover from emergencies. The Center for Research and Training in Disaster Medicine, Humanitarian Aid, and Global Health (CRIMEDIM), together with the Italian NGO Doctors with Africa (CUAMM), under the direct supervision of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), developed a prehospital Disaster Training Package (DTP) to be delivered to all NEMS personnel to boost the prehospital management of mass-casualty incidents (MCIs) and outbreaks. The DTP included a first phase in which NEMS local trainers underwent a training-of-trainers (ToT) course, enabling them to deliver cascade trainings to 16 district ambulance supervisors, 441 paramedics, 441 ambulance drivers, and 36 operators working in the NEMS operation center. This on-going training package represents the first Disaster Medicine training course for prehospital health professionals in Sierra Leone.
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.
This report describes the main adaptive and transformative changes adopted by the brand-new National Emergency Medical Service (NEMS) to face the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Sierra Leone, including ambulance re-distribution, improvements in communication flow, implementation of ad-hoc procedures and trainings, and budget re-allocation. In a time-span of four months, 1,170 COVID-19 cases have been handled by the NEMS through a parallel referral system, while efforts have been made to manage the routine emergencies of the country, causing a substantial intensification of daily activities.
Disaster medicine has been identified as a fundamental discipline for health professionals. In Italy, the role of physicians during disaster response is officially recognized by the Italian Code of Medical Ethics and by the Ministry of Education. Nevertheless, few Italian medical schools include this discipline in their curricula.
With the aim of teaching basic knowledge of disaster medicine to Italian medical students, Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine (CRIMEDIM) and Italian Medical Students’ Association (SISM) developed DisasterSISM, a nationwide training project in disaster medicine.
DisasterSISM consists of three courses: Basic, Advanced, and Train-of-Trainers (ToT). The Basic courses are managed by medical students who are trained during the one-week intense ToT. All courses are delivered using innovative training methodologies, such as e-learning, peer education, table-top exercises, and virtual reality simulations.
From 2012 to 2018, a total of 122 courses (111 Basic, 5 Advanced, and 6 ToT) have been delivered. DisasterSISM reached 37 out of 45 Italian medical schools, training more than 2,500 students. A survey conducted after the end of each course showed that participants considered the knowledge in Disaster Medicine essential for their future profession, regardless of the specialty chosen. Students also expressed their appreciation about the blended-learning approach, with a predilection for virtual reality simulations. The comparison between the entrance and the final exam scores showed a significant increase in knowledge.
In six years, DisasterSISM reached the majority of Italian medical schools, providing disaster medicine knowledge to hundreds of undergraduates. Considering the fast growth and diffusion of the project, the significant increase of knowledge, and the positive feedback received from participants, we suggest that the DisasterSISM model be implemented in other countries to widely disseminate information about prevention and disaster preparedness among medical students and health professionals.
Italy is prone to major earthquakes and has experienced several devastating earthquakes in the far and recent past. The objectives of this study were to assess the level of Italian households’ preparedness for earthquakes and to measure the public’s perception of the risk and its impact on preparedness behavior.
Italian households’ preparedness for earthquakes is insufficient and is influenced by different threat perception components that were assessed.
A cross-sectional study, using an online questionnaire, was conducted in early 2018. The sample included 1,093 responders from a diverse sociodemographic background. The primary outcome was the Preparedness Index (PI), a score indicating the number of preparedness actions complied-with out of 10.
The PI’s mean was 5.26 (SD = 2.17). The recommendation most complied-with was keeping a flashlight at home (87.7%) and the least was securing the kitchen cupboards (15.1%). The PI was positively correlated with a higher sense of preparedness (r = 0.426; P <.001). The PI was higher for responders residing in high-seismic-risk areas and those who experienced a major earthquake before. The predictors of PI were: gender, age, prior experience, sense of preparedness, searching for information, and threat intrusiveness (negatively).
The findings demonstrate a medium-level of preparedness; however, this might be circumstantial. Italians perceive major earthquakes to be unlikely, yet severe if and when they do occur. A validated tool in Italian now exists and can be used in future studies.
Bodas M, Giuliani F, Ripoll-Gallardo A, Caviglia M, Dell’Aringa MF, Linty M, Della Corte F, Ragazzoni L. Threat perception and public preparedness for earthquakes in Italy. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2019;34(2):114–124
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