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New Disaster-preparedness Resource Provides Valuable Information for Pediatricians and Emergency Response Planners

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Press Release Date: October 27, 2006

The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), today released Pediatric Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness: A Resource for Pediatricians. The resource is intended to increase awareness about 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 incidents.

"This resource provides critical information about how pediatricians and other physicians caring for children can work with other entities involved in public health planning," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "Based on their well-established role in the community, pediatricians are in an ideal position to assist in the development and implementation of plans that address the needs of our most vulnerable citizens."

"With the publication of this new resource, our nation's planning and response efforts are strengthened by bringing needed focus on children in disasters," said HHS Assistant Secretary for Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Rear Admiral W. Craig Vanderwagen, M.D. "Not only pediatricians will benefit, but also state and community response planners, who will be better able to address our children's special needs in all types of disasters."

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 day care 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.

"Pediatricians already have the knowledge to identify and manage the physical and psychological symptoms children experience as a result of illness and trauma," said AAP President Eileen M. Ouellette, M.D., J.D. "This resource gives them the necessary tools to extend that expertise to the management of widespread or catastrophic events."

Development of the resource, which is available online at, was funded by AHRQ, the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness, and the Health Resources and Services Administration. AHRQ has several related resources to help clinicians, policy makers, and the public address the special needs of children in emergency situations, including the report, Pediatric Anthrax: Implications for Bioterrorism Preparedness (go to 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

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 For more information about the American Academy of Pediatrics' terrorism resources, visit their Web site at

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1863 or (301) 427-1865; Marjorie Tharp, AAP: (202) 347-8600.


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