Objective: Children account for 30 percent of the US population; as a result, many victims of disaster events are children. The most critically injured pediatric victims would be best cared for in a tertiary care pediatric hospital. The Children's Hospital Association (CHA) undertook a survey of its members to determine their level of readiness to respond to a mass casualty disaster.
Design: The Disaster Response Task Force constructed survey questions in October 2011.
Setting and participants: The survey was distributed via e-mail to the person listed as an "emergency manager/disaster contact" at each association member hospital and was designed to take less than 15 minutes to complete.
Main outcome measures: The survey sought to determine how children's hospitals address disaster preparedness, how prepared they feel for disaster events, and how CHA could support their efforts in preparedness.
Results: One hundred seventy-nine surveys were distributed with a 36 percent return rate. Seventy percent of respondent hospitals have a structure in place to plan for disaster response. There was a stronger level of confidence for hospitals in responding to local casualty events than for those responding to large-scale regional, national, and international events. Few hospitals appear to interact with nonmedical facilities with a high concentration of children such as schools or daycares.
Conclusions: Little commonality exists among children's hospitals in approaches to disaster preparedness and response. Universally, respondents can identify a disaster response plan and routinely participate in drills, but the scale and scope of these plans and drills vary substantially.