EMS Reported Unprepared to Care for Children in Disasters

The American Academy of Pediatrics believes most licensed U.S. pre-hospital emergency medical service agencies are "significantly unprepared" to appropriately care for pediatric patients during a disaster, basing the conclusion on a recent study. In "Prehospital Preparedness for Pediatric Mass-Casualty Events," researchers surveyed 1,932 EMS service agencies, finding that while 72.9 percent reported having a written response plan for mass-casualty events, only 13.3 percent included pediatric-specific procedures.

In addition, 69 percent did not have a specific plan for responding to a mass-casualty event at a school and only 19.2 percent had pediatric triage protocol, according to an article in the October issue of Pediatrics, the academy's journal.

Nearly 70 percent of the agencies answering the survey reported they had participated in a regional disaster drill during the past year, and that fewer than half of the drills included pediatric victims. The study's authors recommended child-specific disaster planning throughout the United States.

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