Measuring disaster preparedness of local emergency medical services agencies
Elliott, Ross W.
Fernandez, Lauren S.
Petrie, Michael G.
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Emergency Medical Services (EMS) plays a key role in disaster response. Yet, determining how much preparedness is enough to achieve an acceptable level of preparedness is challenging. After conducting an extensive literature review, it is evident no nationally accepted method exists to evaluate an EMS system's level of disaster preparedness systematically. Research was conducted to define the skills and equipment that local emergency medical services agencies (LEMSA) or a similar entity needs to perform strategic disaster response duties and identify performance indicators for measuring preparedness. Using an appreciative inquiry approach, surveys and interviews of EMS personnel from across the nation were conducted. Interview questions focused on the positive aspects of each response with an effort to understand what might be possible in future events. Research subjects had first-hand experience in managing the EMS response during a disaster. Multiple types and sizes of events were studied. A framework for defining minimum standards for adequate disaster preparedness for LEMSAs is constructed, including core EMS disaster response roles; essential competencies; skills needed to perform the core roles; and tools or equipment used for core roles. Training strategies for developing experience, competencies, and skills are identified, and metrics listed for measuring the level of preparedness.
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