Emergency Preparedness Training for Hospital Nursing Staff, New York City, 2012-2016

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2019 Jan;51(1):81-87. doi: 10.1111/jnu.12425. Epub 2018 Sep 17.


Purpose: Many nurses are trained inadequately in emergency preparedness (EP), preventing them from effectively executing response roles during disasters, such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) events. Nurses also indicate lacking confidence in their abilities to perform EP activities. The purpose of this article is to describe the phased development of, and delivery strategies for, a CBRNE curriculum to enhance EP among nursing professionals. The New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University's Earth Institute led the initiative.

Methods: Curriculum development included four phases. In Phases I and II, nursing staff at 20 participating NYC hospitals conducted 7,177 surveys and participated in 20 focus groups to identify training gaps in EP. In Phase III, investigators developed and later refined the CBRNE curriculum based on gaps identified. In Phase IV, 22 nurse educators (representing 7 of the original 20 participating hospitals) completed train-the-trainer sessions. Of these nurse educators, three were evaluated on their ability to train other nurses using the curriculum, which investigators finalized.

Findings: The CBRNE curriculum included six modules, a just-in-time training, and an online annual refresher course that addressed EP gaps identified in surveys and focus groups. Among the 11 nurses who were trained by three nurse educators during a pilot training, participant knowledge of CBRNE events and response roles increased from an average of 54% (range 45%-75%) on the pre-test to 89% (range 80%-90%) on the posttest.

Conclusions: By participating in nursing CBRNE training, nurses increased their knowledge of and preparedness to respond to disasters. The train-the-trainer curriculum is easily adaptable to meet the needs of other healthcare settings.

Clinical relevance: The CBRNE curriculum can be used to train nurses to better prepare for and more effectively respond to disasters.

Keywords: Curriculum; nurses' disaster preparedness education.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Civil Defense / education*
  • Curriculum
  • Disaster Medicine / methods
  • Disaster Planning / methods*
  • Disasters
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitals
  • Hospitals, Urban / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • New York City
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires