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The US, as well as many countries, are being beseeched by more natural and man-made events; both small (e.g., shootings) and geographically vast (e.g., floods). Due to a myriad of issues, traditional first responders i.e., EMS, fire department, and police cannot be expected to be the only trained lifesavers on the scene. In the US (as in many countries), it is imperative to begin the discussion to better understand the role of the “injured” and “immediate” responders and how they interact with the “first” responders.
To open a discussion amongst disaster experts about the merits of training and subsequent promotion of a curriculum for “immediate” responders.
After recent evaluations of events, it is postulated that there are three categories of responders: the injured, the immediate, and the first (EMS, fire department, police). The premise upon which disaster risk reduction and building community resilience are achieved begin with strengthening, empowering, and equipping local populations with the appropriate tools. This would involve education, skills, and training. With the average general public trained, and if they are one of the first two categories, then the community would not only be better able to assist themselves, but also be able to integrate into the recovery process much more quickly and fully. By doing this, they will be empowered to take care of themselves, neighbors, and community, which in turn increases local resilience.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas in August 2017, causing unprecedented flooding throughout the Texas coastal region. Residents of affected regions were forced to evacuate to nearby unaffected areas, including Dallas, TX, where a large shelter operation was opened for 23 days to care for those evacuees. Retrospective evaluation of pharmaceutical prescribing patterns for the evacuees who self-presented to the Megashelter Medical Clinic (MMC) established in the shelter contributes to developing evidence-based planning strategies for healthcare delivery in the post-disaster setting.
To describe the pharmacy needs of a displaced population following a large-scale evacuation after a hurricane
De-identified prescription records written and filled at a shelter pharmacy were reviewed, looking at both cost and category of medications dispensed over time.
Approximately 41% of evacuees with a total of 2,654 visits utilized the MMC clinic, resulting in 1,590 prescriptions filled with an associated cost of $78,039. The most commonly prescribed drug categories were cardiovascular (21.2%), neuropsychotropic (15.6%), infectious disease (12.5%), and endocrine (9.6%). While the most commonly dispensed were antihypertensives, diabetes treatment-related prescriptions, antibacterials, antidepressants, and NSAIDs, the costliest individual prescriptions were antiretrovirals and antipsychotics.
Prescribing patterns for the MMC differed from normal prescribing patterns of a general population. Of the prescriptions dispensed at the MMC, pharmaceutical prescription patterns suggest the immediate needs of evacuees differ from later needs. There is a greater need for chronic disease management in the early phase of shelter operations, and an increasing need for neuropsychotropic and infectious disease prescriptions over time. Understanding overall patterns of drug utilization over the duration of the shelter provides valuable insight on post-disaster medical resource utilization in evacuee populations.
In 2013, a multinational collaboration met to improve the global and nation-specific preparedness and response in managing casualties from nuclear and radiological disasters. From this meeting, a survey was developed and distributed in both Japanese and English. The results published four years later illustrate a lack of understanding about radiation and risks to the health care provider.
To dispel myths and increase understanding regarding trauma treatment and healthcare risks for healthcare providers during a radiologic event.
IRB approved survey and literature review
A total of 418 surveys were analyzed. Although 44% of participants acknowledged that they had taken at least one radiological training course, the majority of the respondents were still not comfortable with radiological emergencies.
Despite the plethora of both online and in-person radiological training availability, healthcare providers are not comfortable with the topic. Based on information from the survey, it is important to dispel myths and educate healthcare providers so that they have reasonable expectations regarding risks and to ensure that they are comfortable coming to work. By doing this, there will be an adequate healthcare presence to help take care of patients who are not only in need of immediate trauma and radiologic exposure care but also with non-affected patients coming for emergent and scheduled health care needs.
After Hurricane Harvey and the flooding that ensued, 3,829 displaced persons were transported from their homes and sheltered in the Dallas Convention Center. This large general population sheltering operation was medically supported by the onsite Mega-Shelter Medical Clinic (MMC). In an altered standard of care environment, a number of multi-disciplinary medical services were provided including emergent management, acute pediatric and adult care, psychiatric/behavioral services, onsite pharmaceutical, and durable medical equipment distribution, epidemiologic surveillance, and select laboratory services.
To describe how onsite medical care in the adapted environment of a large population shelter can provide comparable services and limit the direct impact on the local medical community.
A retrospective chart review of medical records was generated for all clinical encounters at the MMC. Data were sorted by daily census, disease surveillance, medical decision making, treatment, and transport destinations.
40.7% of registered evacuees utilized the MMC accounting for a total of 2,654 clinic visits by 1,560 unique patients representing all age groups. During the sustained MMC operations, 8% of patients required emergency transport and 500 additional patient transports were arranged for clinic appointments. No deaths occurred and no iatrogenic morbidity was reported.
Medical care was provided for a large number of evacuees which mitigated the potential impact on the local medical infrastructure. The provision of medical services in a large population shelter may necessitate adaptation to the standard of care. However, despite the nontraditional clinical setting, care delivery was not compromised.
Ultrasound applications are widespread, and their utility in resource-limited environments are numerous. In disasters, the use of ultrasound can help reallocate resources by guiding decisions on management and transportation priorities. These interventions can occur on-scene, at triage collection points, during transport, and at the receiving medical facility. Literature related to this specific topic is limited. However, literature regarding prehospital use of ultrasound, ultrasound in combat situations, and some articles specific to disaster medicine allude to the potential growth of ultrasound utilization in disaster response.
To evaluate the utility of point-of-care ultrasound in a disaster response based on studies involving ultrasonography in resource-limited environments.
A narrative review of MEDLINE, MEDLINE InProcess, EPub, and Embase found 20 articles for inclusion.
Experiences from past disasters, prehospital care, and combat experiences have demonstrated the value of ultrasound both as a diagnostic and interventional modality.
Current literature supports the use of ultrasound in disaster response as a real-time, portable, safe, reliable, repeatable, easy-to-use, and accurate tool. While both false positives and false negatives were reported in prehospital studies, these values correlate to accepted false positive and negative rates of standard in-hospital point-of-care ultrasound exams. Studies involving austere environments demonstrate the ability to apply ultrasound in extreme conditions and to obtain high-quality images with only modest training and real-time remote guidance. The potential for point-of-care ultrasound in triage and management of mass casualty incidents is there. However, as these studies are heterogeneous and observational in nature, further research is needed as to how to integrate ultrasound into the response and recovery phases.
The Dallas Convention Center received over 3800 evacuees because of the unprecedented flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. A multidisciplinary medical clinic was established onsite to address evacuee needs for medical evaluations, emergency care, chronic disease management, pharmaceuticals, durable medical equipment, and local health services integration. To operate efficiently, the Dallas Mega-Shelter Emergency Operations Center (EOC) worked with the Mega-Shelter Medical Clinic (MMC) under a fluid incident command (IC) structure that was National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant. Iterations of MMC IC demonstrated maturations in organizational structure while supporting MMC operations that varied from rigid NIMS doctrine.
To explore the use of a fluid IC structure at a large evacuation medical shelter after Hurricane Harvey.
We observed evolutions of IC organizational charts and operational impacts.
Modifications through just-in-time iterations of the IC organizational chart were posted and reviewed with MMC IC and EOC sector chiefs. Changes in the organizational chart were noted to improve identification of logistical needs, supply delivery, coordinate with other agencies, and to make decisions for resource typing and personnel utilization. Adaptations also improved communication, which led to timely situational awareness and reporting accuracy.
MMC medical services were improved by allowing modifications and adaptations to NIMS compliant MMC IC organizational roles and duty assignments. The fluidity of IC structure with ability for just-in-time modifications directly impacted the provision of disaster medical services. Unique situational awareness, coordination of care pathways within the local innate health infrastructure, compliance with health service regulations, and personnel resource typing all contributed to and benefitted from these IC modifications. MMC and EOC IC collaboration facilitated effective communication and maintained an appropriate span of control and efficient activity reporting.
Residency education delivery in the United States has migrated from conventional lectures to alternative educational models that include mini-lectures, small group, and learner lead discussions. As training programs struggle with mandated hours of content, prehospital (EMS) and disaster medicine are given limited focus. While the need for prehospital and disaster medicine education in emergency training is understood, no standard curriculum delivery has been proposed and little research has been done to evaluate the effectiveness of any particular model.
To demonstrate a four-hour multi-modal curriculum that includes lecture based discussions and small group exercises, culminating in an interactive multidisciplinary competition that integrates the previously taught information.
EMS and disaster faculty were surveyed on the previous disaster and prehospital educational day experiences to evaluate course content, level of engagement, and participation by faculty. Based on this feedback, the EMS/Disaster divisions developed a schedule for the four hour EMS and Disaster Day that incorporated vital concepts while addressing the pitfalls previously identified. Sessions included traditional lectures, question and answer sessions, small group exercises, and a tabletop competition. Structured similarly to a strategy board game, the tabletop exercise challenged residents to take into account both medical and ethical considerations during a traditional triage exercise.
Compared to past reviews by emergency medical faculty, residents, and medical students, there was a precipitous increase in satisfaction scores on the part of all participants.
This curriculum deviates from the conventional education model and has been successfully implemented at our 3-year residency program of 66 residents. This EMS and Disaster Day promotes active learning, resident and faculty participation, and retention of important concepts while also fostering relationships between disaster managers and the Department of Emergency Medicine.
In 2017, members of our workgroup published on the readiness for nuclear and radiological incidents among emergency medical personnel.1 Our findings, along with a review of pertinent literature, suggest that the state of medical preparedness for these incidents is in crisis. A 2018 publication addressing nuclear terrorism preparedness relegates medical preparedness to a low priority and describes it as potentially dangerous.2 The crisis status of medical preparedness for these incidents is addressed.
To establish a prepared medical workforce and trained public for those at risk from nuclear or radiological disasters.
This Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved survey published an article and used a relevant literature review.
Readiness for nuclear and radiological incidents is lacking in multiple areas including education, training, identifying medical needs, willingness to come to work, and perception of relative risk among medical personnel.1 Confounding this is recent prominent publication downplaying and discouraging medical preparedness for nuclear terrorism.2 The importance of a readied workforce and a prepared public is identified.
In 2013, we formed a multi-national workgroup focused on preparing health professionals and the public for clinical management of casualties during nuclear and radiological disasters. Modeling has demonstrated predictable casualty injury and illness patterns suggesting that early appropriate medical response will save lives. Readiness demands an educated, skillful, and willing-to-engage medical workforce. Our 2017 publication identified several areas that place medical preparedness at risk.1 A significant risk to medical preparedness may lie in prominent publications discouraging the pursuit.2 We firmly believe that medical preparedness is essential and begins with a prepared public.
In the United States, over 50% of people have at least one chronic medical condition, access, or functional limitation. In 2017 during Hurricane Harvey, the establishment of a comprehensive multidisciplinary onsite medical clinic provided health and medical services to over 3,800 evacuees at the Dallas Mega Shelter, providing large-scale general population sheltering support to all evacuees and prioritizing family unit integrity by meeting physical, sensory, and cognitive limitations, and chronic medical conditions. The effectiveness of the Dallas Mega Shelter onsite medical operations supporting this aim is reviewed.
To utilize onsite health and medical resources to meet access and functional needs of evacuees seeking general population mass sheltering in Dallas, Texas during Hurricane Harvey.
Over 3,800 evacuees were evaluated for functional needs support services (FNSS) resulting in over 2,500 evacuee patient encounters during 21 continuous days of onsite health and medical clinic operations.1 A comprehensive array of services were available at no cost to the evacuees and were in accordance with the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) published Guidance on Planning for Integration of Functional Needs Support Service in General Population Shelters.2 The goal to maintain nearly all evacuees choosing to stay in the Mega Shelter was achieved. The challenges, limitations, and risks identified are reviewed.
FNSS guidelines require all persons, regardless of limitations, when evacuated from home be provided all services necessary to allow them to remain in general population sheltering.2 This prioritization of personal choice, functional independence, and family integrity for those with comprehensive FNSS requirements presented notable challenges, including public health and safety risks impacting the wellbeing of others. Meeting these expectations must be balanced with maintaining shelter integrity.
On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Corpus Christi, Texas. The ensuing unprecedented flooding throughout the Texas coastal region affected millions of individuals.1 The statewide response in Texas included the sheltering of thousands of individuals at considerable distances from their homes. The Dallas area established large-scale general population sheltering as the number of evacuees to the area began to amass. Historically, the Dallas area is one familiar with “mega-sheltering,” beginning with the response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.2 Through continued efforts and development, the Dallas area had been readying a plan for the largest general population shelter in Texas. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:33–37)
Background: Various organizations and universities have developed competencies for health professionals and other emergency responders. Little effort has been devoted to the integration of these competencies across health specialties and professions. The American Medical Association Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response convened an expert working group (EWG) to review extant competencies and achieve consensus on an educational framework and competency set from which educators could devise learning objectives and curricula tailored to fit the needs of all health professionals in a disaster.
Methods: The EWG conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed and non–peer reviewed published literature. In addition, after-action reports from Hurricane Katrina and relevant publications recommended by EWG members and other subject matter experts were reviewed for congruencies and gaps. Consensus was ensured through a 3-stage Delphi process.
Results: The EWG process developed a new educational framework for disaster medicine and public health preparedness based on consensus identification of 7 core learning domains, 19 core competencies, and 73 specific competencies targeted at 3 broad health personnel categories.
Conclusions: The competencies can be applied to a wide range of health professionals who are expected to perform at different levels (informed worker/student, practitioner, leader) according to experience, professional role, level of education, or job function. Although these competencies strongly reflect lessons learned following the health system response to Hurricane Katrina, it must be understood that preparedness is a process, and that these competencies must be reviewed continually and refined over time. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2008;2:57–68)
In many countries, traditional medical planning for disasters developed largely in response to battlefield and multiple casualty incidents, generally involving corporal injuries. The mass evacuation of a metropolitan population in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina evolved into life-and-death triage scenarios involving thousands of patients with nontraumatic illnesses and special medical needs. Although unprecedented in the United States, triage management needs for this disaster were similar to other large-scale public health emergencies, both natural and human-generated, that occurred globally in the past half-century. The need for alternative triage-management processes similar to the methodologies of other global mass public health emergencies is illustrated through the experience of disaster medical assistance teams in the first 3 days following Katrina's landfall. The immediate establishment of disaster-specific, consensus-based, public health emergency–related triage protocols—developed with ethical and legal expertise and a renewed focus on multidimensional, multifactorial matrix decision-making processes—is strongly recommended. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2008;2(Suppl 1):S40–S44)
Mass casualty triage is the process of prioritizing multiple victims when resources are not sufficient to treat everyone immediately. No national guideline for mass casualty triage exists in the United States. The lack of a national guideline has resulted in variability in triage processes, tags, and nomenclature. This variability has the potential to inject confusion and miscommunication into the disaster incident, particularly when multiple jurisdictions are involved. The Model Uniform Core Criteria for Mass Casualty Triage were developed to be a national guideline for mass casualty triage to ensure interoperability and standardization when responding to a mass casualty incident. The Core Criteria consist of 4 categories: general considerations, global sorting, lifesaving interventions, and individual assessment of triage category. The criteria within each of these categories were developed by a workgroup of experts representing national stakeholder organizations who used the best available science and, when necessary, consensus opinion. This article describes how the Model Uniform Core Criteria for Mass Casualty Triage were developed.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:129-137)
Methods: An effective disaster response requires competent responders and leaders. The purpose of this study was to ask experts to identify attributes that distinguish effective from ineffective responders and leaders in a disaster. In this qualitative study, focus groups were held with jurisdictional medical directors for the 9-1-1 emergency medical services systems of the majority of the nation's largest cities. These sessions were recorded with audio equipment and later transcribed.
Results: The researchers identified themes within the transcriptions, created categories, and coded passages into these categories. Overall interrater reliability was excellent (κ = .8). The focus group transcripts yielded 138 codable passages. Ten categories were developed from analysis of the content: Incident Command System/Disaster Training/Experience, General Training/Experience, Teamwork/Interpersonal, Communication, Cognition, Problem Solving/Decision Making, Adaptable/Flexible, Calm/Cool, Character, and Performs Role. The contents of these categories included knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and personal characteristics.
Conclusions: Experts in focus groups identified a variety of competencies for disaster responders and leaders. These competencies will require validation through further research that involves input from the disaster response community at large.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:332-338)
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