Pediatric disaster preparedness and response and the nation's children's hospitals

Am J Disaster Med. 2015 Spring;10(2):83-91. doi: 10.5055/ajdm.2015.0193.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Civil Defense / methods*
  • Civil Defense / statistics & numerical data
  • Data Collection
  • Disaster Planning / methods*
  • Disaster Planning / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Leadership
  • United States