Updated checklist for pediatric disaster preparedness to be released

  • Published January 31, 2022
disaster flood

In the spring of 2021, the EMSC Innovation & Improvement Center (EIIC) Disaster Domain convened a diverse workgroup of national experts in pediatric disaster planning to update the “Checklist of Essential Pediatric Domains and Considerations for Every Hospital’s Disaster Preparedness Policies.” The revision incorporates new pediatric disaster recommendations, including distilling lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic and other recent disasters.

The disaster checklist was originally developed in 2014 following the results of the 2013 National Pediatric Readiness Project assessment, which demonstrated that less than half (47%) of U.S. emergency departments had a disaster plan that addressed the needs of children. The workgroup not only included many of the original authors, who represented organizations such as the Health Resources and Services Administration, the National Pediatric Disaster Coalition, and other national professional organizations, but also the two Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Pediatric Disaster Care Centers of Excellence—the Eastern Great Lakes Pediatric Consortium for Disaster Response and the Western Regional Alliance for Pediatric Medicine.

The checklist is intended to assist a broad range of health care facilities, from community hospital facilities to academic medical centers. It includes 11 domains or focus areas (see list below) and recommends the personnel, resources, equipment, and supplies that are useful for rapid onset pediatric surge planning and disaster response.

“Our hope with this checklist is that it will have broad applicability to all healthcare facilities across the country and, in a tailored way, ensure pediatric specific considerations are included in their disaster plans and policies,” says the checklist’s lead author and EIIC Disaster Domain fellow Jeff Barrett, MD, MPH.

A key improvement from the original checklist is the division of recommendations into a three-category, progressive system—Foundation, Intermediate, and Advanced—which enables tailoring of recommendations based on pediatric volume and inpatient capabilities or capacity. References, templates, and tools accompany each domain to facilitate implementation.

The updated checklist will debut on the EIIC’s website in the spring of 2022. Plans to study the feasibility and effectiveness of the checklist as a pediatric disaster preparedness tool are underway as is the development of a consensus statement based on the work. The checklist will provide the structure for the EIIC’s online pediatric disaster preparedness resource library, which will include the resources and tools developed by the Pediatric Disaster Care Centers of Excellence as well as the Pediatric Pandemic Network—of which EIIC is a major partner. The checklist, consensus statement, and accompanying online resource library will ultimately support the upcoming pediatric disaster-focused quality improvement collaboratives.

The 11 Essential Domains for Pediatric Disaster Preparedness:

  1. The Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator
  2. Regional Coalition Building
  3. Surge Capacity & Capability
  4. Triage, Infection Control, and Decontamination
  5. Pediatric Patient Tracking & Family Reunification
  6. Evacuation
  7. Legal & Ethical Considerations
  8. Behavioral Health
  9. Children and Youth with Special Healthcare Needs
  10. Staffing, Exercises, Drills, and Training
  11. Recovery & Resiliency

To learn more about pediatric disaster preparedness, visit the EIIC Disaster Domain webpage.