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New disaster-preparedness resource provides valuable information for pediatricians and emergency response planners

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, has released Pediatric Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness: A Resource for Pediatricians. The resource is intended to increase awareness of the unique needs of children and encourage collaboration among pediatricians, State and local emergency response planners, health care systems, and others involved in planning and response efforts for natural disasters and terrorism.

Children have increased vulnerability to injury from catastrophic events because of their unique anatomic, physiologic, immunologic, and developmental characteristics. Local, State, regional, and Federal emergency response plans that recognize and address these differences can reduce harm and even save lives, according to the resource.

The publication provides an overview of the role of national, regional, and local emergency response systems before, during, and after disasters and terrorism events. The pediatrician's role in collaborating with this infrastructure and local emergency departments, schools, and daycare facilities is highlighted. Individual chapters provide detailed information on the triage, supportive care, and referral of children affected by natural, biological, chemical, radiological, nuclear, and blast events. Children's emotional and mental health needs are also described, including the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and behavioral problems that often result from these incidents. In addition to advice on integrating the information into emergency response plans, the resource also contains an extensive list of suggested references and a discussion of lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina.

Development of the resource was funded by AHRQ, the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. The resource is available online at http://www.ahrq.gov/research/pedprep/resource.htm. Printed copies of Pediatric Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness: A Resource for Pediatricians (AHRQ Publication No. 06-0056) and the summary (AHRQ Publication No. 06-0048) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

Editor's note: AHRQ has several related resources to help clinicians, policymakers, and the public address the special needs of children in emergency situations, including the report Pediatric Anthrax: Implications for Bioterrorism Preparedness (go to http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/tp/pedanthtp.htm) and the video Decontamination of Children: Preparedness and Response for Hospital Emergency Departments (for information about the video and to see a clip, go to http://www.ahrq.gov/research/decontam.htm). To learn more about all AHRQ-supported research, tools, and activities related to bioterrorism and public health emergency preparedness, visit the AHRQ Web site at http://www.ahrq.gov/prep/.

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