Disaster training for prehospital providers

Prehosp Emerg Care. 2007 Oct-Dec;11(4):458-65. doi: 10.1080/00207450701537076.


Objective: To survey prehospital providers to determine 1) the quantity and format of training recalled over the past year in chemical, biological, radiological/nuclear (CBRN), and other mass casualty events (MCEs); 2) preferred educational formats; 3) self-assessed preparedness for various CBRN/MCEs; and 4) perceived likelihood of occurrence for CBRN/MCEs.

Methods: A survey, consisting of 11 questions, was distributed to 1,010 prehospital providers in a system where no formal CBRN/mass casualty training was given.

Results: Surveys were completed by 640 (63%) prehospital providers. Twenty-two percent (22%) of prehospital providers recalled no training within the past year for CBRN or other MCEs, 19% reported 1-5 hours, 15% reported 6-10 hours, 24% reported 11-39 hours, and 7% reported receiving greater than 40 hours. Lectures and drills were the most common formats for prior education. On a five-point scale (1: "Never Helpful" through 5: "Always Helpful") regarding the helpfulness of training methods, median scores were the following: drills-5, lectures-4, self-study packets-3, Web-based learning-3, and other-4. On another five-point scale (1: "Totally Unprepared" through 5: "Strongly Prepared"), prehospital providers felt most prepared for MCEs-4, followed by chemical-4, biological-3, and radiation/nuclear-3. Over half (61%) felt MCEs were "Somewhat Likely" or "Very Likely" to occur, whereas chemical (42%), biological (38%), or radiation/nuclear (33%) rated lower.

Conclusion: The amount of training in the past year reported for CBRN events varied greatly, with almost a quarter recalling no education. Drills and lectures were the most used and preferred formats for disaster training. Prehospital providers felt least prepared for a radiological;/nuclear event. Future studies should focus on the consistency and quality of education provided.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Disaster Medicine / education*
  • Emergency Medical Technicians / education*
  • Humans
  • Mass Casualty Incidents
  • Midwestern United States