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Comfort level of emergency medical service providers in responding to weapons of mass destruction events: impact of training and equipment

Reilly, Michael J.; Markenson, David; DiMaggio, Charles J.

Background: Numerous studies have suggested that emergency medical services (EMS) providers are ill-prepared in the areas of training and equipment for response to events due to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and other public health emergencies (epidemics, etc.). Methods: A nationally representative sample of basic and paramedic EMS providers in the United States was surveyed to assess whether they had received training in WMD and/or public health emergencies as part of their initial provider training and as continuing medical education within the past 24 months. Providers also were surveyed as to whether their primary EMS agency had the necessary specialty equipment to respond to these specific events. Results: More than half of EMS providers had some training in WMD response. Hands-on training was associated with EMS provider comfort in responding to chemical, biological, and/or radiological events and public health emergencies (odds ratio (OR) = 3.2,95% confidence interval (CI) 3.1, 3.3). Only 18.1% of providers surveyed indicated that their agencies had the necessary equipment to respond to a WMD event. Emergency medical service providers who only received WMD training reported higher comfort levels than those who had equipment, but no training. Conclusions: Lack of training and education as well as the lack of necessary equipment to respond to WMD events is associated with decreased comfort among emergency medical services providers in responding to chemical, biological, and/or radiological incidents. Better training and access to appropriate equipment may increase provider comfort in responding to these types of incidents

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Published In
Prehospital and disaster medicine
Volume
22
Issue
4
Pages
297 - 303
Academic Units
National Center for Disaster Preparedness
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