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There is an ongoing and established need for humanitarian training and professionalization. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic disrupted training programs designed to accomplish this goal, including the Humanitarian Response Intensive Course, which includes a 3-d immersive simulation to prepare humanitarian workers for future field work. To provide program continuity, the 3-d simulation was quickly adapted to a virtual format using a combination of video conferencing, short messaging service, and cloud-based file storage software. Participants were geographically dispersed and participated virtually. Learning objectives were preserved, while some components not amenable to a virtual format were removed.
A virtual humanitarian training simulation is a feasible, acceptable, and affordable alternative to an in-person simulation. Participants were engaged and experienced minimal technological disruptions. The majority of students believed the format met or exceeded expectations. However, feedback also emphasized the importance of providing sufficient time for team collaboration and deliverable preparation in the simulation schedule. The virtual format was more affordable than the traditional in-person simulation, and diverse expert faculty who could not have attended in-person were able to participate. This format could be used to overcome other barriers to in-person simulation training, including geographic, financial, time, or security.
Countries most affected by disasters are often those with limited local capacity to respond. When local capacity is overwhelmed, international humanitarian response often provides needs-based emergency response. Despite global progress in education and the development of international humanitarian response standards, access to training and integration of local actors in response mechanisms remains limited. In May 2017, the Haiti Humanitarian Response Course (HHRC) was implemented in Mirebalais, Haiti to increase local capacity and allow for effective future engagement with international humanitarian actors in a country prone to disasters.
In collaboration with the Hôpital Universitaire de Mirebalais’ (HUM; Mirebalais, Haiti) Department of Medical Education and Emergency Medicine (EM) residency program, four physicians from the Division of Global Emergency Care and Humanitarian Studies at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (Boston, Massachusetts USA) facilitated the course, which included 53 local physicians and staff. Following 15 hours of online pre-course preparation, through didactics and practical small-group exercises, the course focused on key components of international humanitarian response, minimum standards for effective response, and the roles of key response players. The course was free to participants and taught in English and French.
The HHRC reduced the barriers often faced by local actors who seek training in international humanitarian response by offering free training in their own community. It presents a novel approach to narrow critical gaps in training local populations in international humanitarian response, especially in environments prone to crises and disasters. This approach can help local responders better access international humanitarian response mechanisms when the local response capacity is exhausted or overwhelmed.
The HHRC demonstrates a potential new model for humanitarian and disaster training and offers a model for similar programs in other disaster-prone countries. Ultimately, local capacity building could lead to more efficient resource utilization, improved knowledge sharing, and better disaster response.
The unprecedented Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa, with its first cases documented in March 2014, has claimed the lives of thousands of people, and it has devastated the health care infrastructure and workforce in affected countries. Throughout this outbreak, there has been a critical lack of health care workers (HCW), including physicians, nurses, and other essential non-clinical staff, who have been needed, in most of the affected countries, to support the medical response to EVD, to attend to the health care needs of the population overall, and to be trained effectively in infection protection and control. This lack of sufficient and qualified HCW is due in large part to three factors: 1) limited HCW staff prior to the outbreak, 2) disproportionate illness and death among HCWs caused by EVD directly, and 3) valid concerns about personal safety among international HCWs who are considering responding to the affected areas. These guidelines are meant to inform institutions who deploy professional HCWs. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:586–590)
Emergency departments around the world may differ, but many of the problems they face are the same. Written by an international panel of experienced emergency department leaders Emergency Department Leadership and Management provides the latest knowledge and advice to improve your personal leadership skills. The book will assist emergency department leaders in overcoming common management and operational problems including overcrowding, risk management, implementing the right triage system, electronic and IT solutions, improving clinical teamwork, education of emergency department staff, improving patient flow, care pathways and leading during times of change. Example cases are included to allow leaders to compare common cases to the problems which they face in their own departments. Information on designing emergency medicine specialty residency programs is also provided. It is the official text of the International Emergency Department Leadership Institute (IEDLI) and has been endorsed by the International Federation for Emergency Medicine (IFEM).
The current Ebola outbreak is the worst global public health emergency of our generation, and our global health care community must and will rise to serve those affected. Aid organizations participating in the Ebola response must carefully plan to carry out their responsibility to ensure the health, safety, and security of their responders. At the same time, individual health care workers and their employers must evaluate the ability of an aid organization to protect its workers in the complex environment of this unheralded Ebola outbreak. We present a minimum set of operational standards developed by a consortium of Boston-based hospitals that a professional organization should have in place to ensure the health, safety, and security of its staff in response to the Ebola virus disease outbreak. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;0:1-2)
The need to provide a professionalization process for the humanitarian workforce is well established. Current competency-based curricula provided by existing academically affiliated training centers in North America, the United Kingdom, and the European Union provide a route toward certification. Simulation exercises followed by timely evaluation is one way to mimic the field deployment process, test knowledge of core competences, and ensure that a competent workforce can manage the inevitable emergencies and crises they will face. Through a 2011 field-based exercise that simulated a humanitarian crisis, delivered under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO), a competency-based framework and evaluation tool is demonstrated as a model for future training and evaluation of humanitarian providers.
CranmerH, ChanJ, KaydenS, MusaniA, GasquetP, WalkerP, BurkleF, JohnsonK. Development of an Evaluation Framework Suitable for Assessing Humanitarian Workforce Competencies During Crisis Simulation Exercises. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(1):1-6.
The collaborative London based non-governmental organization network ELRHA (Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance) supports partnerships between higher education institutions and humanitarian organizations worldwide with the objective to enhance the professionalization of the humanitarian sector. While coordination and control of the humanitarian sector has plagued the response to every major crisis, concerns highlighted by the 2010 Haitian earthquake response further catalyzed and accelerated the need to ensure competency-based professionalization of the humanitarian health care work force. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative sponsored an independent survey of established academically affiliated training centers in North America that train humanitarian health care workers to determine their individual training center characteristics and preferences in the potential professionalization process. The survey revealed that a common thread of profession-specific skills and core humanitarian competencies were being offered in both residential and online programs with additional programs offering opportunities for field simulation experiences and more advanced degree programs. This study supports the potential for the development of like-minded academic affiliated and competency-based humanitarian health programs to organize themselves under ELRHA's regional “consultation hubs” worldwide that can assist and advocate for improved education and training opportunities in less served developing countries.
Burkle Jr FM, WallsAE, HeckJP, SorensenBS, CranmerHH, JohnsonK, LevineAC, KaydenS, CahillB, VanRooyenMJ. Academic Affiliated Training Centers in Humanitarian Health, Part I: Program Characteristics and Professionalization Preferences of Centers in North America. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2013:28(2):1-8.