Of the 4,146 emergency departments (ED) that participated in the 2013 National Pediatric Readiness assessment, only 47% (n=1,990) responded that they have a disaster preparedness plan in place that addressed the unique needs of children. This is of great concern considering that children have unique, often complex physiological, psychosocial and psychological needs that differ from an adult, especially during disaster situations. Unfortunately, children more often than not are involved when disasters occur.
According to the data, every hospital has an opportunity to improve their disaster preparedness plans by better integrating the needs of children. Hospitals with high patient volume (more than 10,000 pediatric patients per year; n = 561) were more prepared for a disaster involving children with 67% reporting that have pediatric-specific components in their disaster plans.
Fifty-two (52%) percent of the hospitals seeing between 5,000 and 9,999 pediatric patients per year (n = 708) have a disaster plan that addressed the unique needs of children, and 46% of the hospitals seeing between 1,800 and 4,999 pediatric patients per year (n = 1,248) have such disaster plans in place.
Less than 38% of the low volume hospitals (less than 1,800 pediatric patients per year; n = 1,629) reported they have a disaster preparedness plan in place that addressed issues specific to the care of children.
In response to these findings, a multi-disciplinary team of subject matter experts developed the Checklist of Essential Pediatric Domains and Considerations for Every Hospital's Disaster Preparedness Policies to assess the inclusion of children in existing disaster plans. Important domains included in the checklist include:
- Domain 1: Physician/staff coordinator to champion pediatric disaster coordination and response in your facility - roles and responsibilities
- Domain 2: Partnership building to facilitate surge capacity
- Domain 3: Essential resources necessary for building pediatric surge capacity
- Domain 4: Traige, infection control, and decontamination
- Domain 5: Family tracking, security, support, and reunification
- Domain 6: Legal/ethical issues
- Domain 7: Behaviorial health
- Domain 8: Children with special health care needs
- Domain 9: Staffing, exercise, drills, and training
- Domain 10: Recovery and resilency
The Checklist is intended as a tool to help hospital administrators and leadership incorporate essential pediatricconsiderations into existing hospital disaster policies. Users can download the checklist: Checklist
For more information, watch the webinar "Essential Pediatric Domains and Considerations for Hospital Disaster Preparedness: Where Do We Begin?" This educational event was an in-depth discussion about the Checklist of Essential Pediatric Domains and Considerations for Every Hospital's Disaster Preparedness Policies and how hospital leadership can use this tool to incorporate pediatric considerations into existing hospital disaster policies.
Additional resources are available on the recently released Health Resources on Children in Disasters and Emergencies Online Guide. Developed by the National Library of Medicine's Disaster Information Management Research Center, in collaboration with the EMSC Program and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, this guide is a compendium of resources related to medical and public health issues of children in disasters and emergencies. Links are provided to both journal articles and to other documents and materials that may be useful in preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery activities. Its intent is to consolidate the multitude of resources available across a variety of organizations, websites, databases, and training sites, making the search for relevant materials simpler and more direct.