On April 27, 2011, hundreds of tornadoes swept a path of destruction 100 miles wide across the central and northern parts of Alabama. A total of 248 people died, including a dozen children. Read the remarks
by Grant Allen, MD about this event, presented at the 2012 Annual Leadership Forum. In response, the Alabama Chapter received support from the AAP Friends of Children Disaster Relief Fund
to implement a project titled "School and the 3 R's: Recognition, Recovery, and Resiliency". The program provided education and training to pediatricians and mental health professionals in Alabama on the effects of trauma and stress on children relative to natural disasters. As part of this project, the webinar "Supporting Children's Mental Health Needs in the Aftermath of a Disaster" was created and is now archived and accessed regularly online
Alabama is focusing its disaster preparedness efforts to improve communication and awareness among pediatricians. Each year, Alabama provides 3 to 6 courses on subjects related to disaster management. In 2012, Alabama provided 6 courses with free continuing medical education on toxic terrorism and medical management of radiologic disasters. Alabama is also working with the Advanced Regional Response Training Center
to develop disaster simulation labs that include pediatric scenarios. These are live, onsite courses with free continuing medical education.
The Alabama Chapter has issued a call to action for its membership to join the Disaster Preparedness Committee Chairperson to become more involved in training. The committee chair will conduct visits throughout the state in 2012-2013 to inform pediatricians of disaster preparedness policy. Alabama is in the planning stage for a pediatric-specific call-down drill for 2012 to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, pediatricians are readily informed and mobilized for response. To support local primary pediatricians, Alabama recently obtained funds to purchase 4 pediatric disaster readiness kits to augment shelter/field medical clinics for pediatrics.
The Florida Chapter is very active in disaster preparedness and response. A state team of pediatric and public health leaders attended the 2011 AAP/CDC Enhancing Pediatric Partnerships to Promote Pandemic Preparedness meeting
and developed a Florida State Action Plan. Many of the Florida Chapter attendees are now in chapter leadership roles, which suggests that disaster preparedness will continue to be emphasized in the chapter’s activities. Also following the AAP/CDC meeting, the chapter and the state Department of Health developed the Florida Children’s Preparedness Coalition that convenes bi-monthly to discuss and build upon disaster preparedness planning for children. The Coalition works to forge connections between public health representatives and community pediatricians to achieve disaster preparedness and enhance communications at the state and local level. The Florida Chapter is also active in the Southeastern Regional Pediatric Disaster Response Surge Network
, which is a network of southeastern states that deals with surge capacity and focuses efforts on how to handle the sharing of resources so that they can be available where and when they are needed.
The Florida Chapter works with many other states and AAP groups to reach shared goals and hopes to continue the efforts of the AAP/CDC meeting by sharing key concepts with chapters that did not attend. Both of the chapter chairpersons work on disaster preparedness at the national and state level. Deborah A. Mulligan, MD, FAAP, FACEP, is the chairperson for the AAP Council on Communications and Media Executive Committee, and Scott Needle, MD, FAAP, is a member of the AAP Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council
. Their expertise in family readiness and preparedness for pediatric practices helps to support improved preparedness efforts across the state. Future objectives include continuing to foster and expand outreach to and participation by community pediatricians and school personnel. Goals are reached by partnering with other Florida stakeholder organizations and agencies within state government, academic institutions, and public and private sectors. The goals of the Florida Chapter of the AAP are strategically aligned with the recommendations of the Florida Public Health and Health Care Strategic plan.
Dr Lane is the chairperson for the Georgia AAP Chapter Committee on Emergency Care. In 2007, Dr Lane provided an educational presentation on the pediatrician's role in disaster preparedness and management for to members of the Georgia AAP Chapter. Dr Lane regularly updates chapter leaders by presenting at chapter board meetings and general sessions for chapter members.
The Kentucky Department of Public Health
leads and coordinates preparedness efforts in the state, and the chapter offers support though the President as needed. Chapter members are active in collaborating with local health departments on numerous public health issues, including disaster preparedness planning. Additionally, former Chapter Vice President Steve Church, MD, FAAP, and current Chapter Executive Director Mary York, MM, met recently with public health officials to review and endorse a Kentucky disaster plan booklet that was distributed to families and pediatric offices.
For more information, e-mail DisasterReady@aap.org
Most of the disaster preparedness efforts for children in the Sate of Tennessee occur through the Tennessee Committee on Pediatric Emergencies and the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services for Children program. A summary of relevant projects follows.
- A proposal was submitted to request funds to improve disaster preparedness programs in the State of Tennessee. Provisions of the grant included:
- Enhancing the Tennessee Emergency Medical Services for Children program Web site through the development and dissemination of pediatric-specific disaster information. Initial materials and information have been developed and are accessible on the Web site. Plans are ongoing to maintain and expand the Web site.
- Providing Web-based continuing education courses.
- Developing a pediatric toolbox for those facilities with limited or no Web access that replicates information provided online.
- A statewide survey was conducted among hospital facilities to assess pediatric capacity regarding readiness for disasters and/or mass casualties that involve children. Onsite visits at select facilities were conducted to identify the needs for these facilities to meet increased capacity for pediatric readiness.
- The current state requirements regarding pediatric emergency equipment were reviewed, and the need for additional equipment or training (based on current recommendations for mass disaster planning) was assessed.
- More than 1000 Emergency Medical Services for Children reference guides and 500 wall charts were developed and disseminated throughout the state. These reference guides contained information on assessing and treating pediatric disaster victims such as pediatric resuscitation protocols, medications, antidotes for chemical agents, and Jump-Start, a pediatric triage system.