Author Profile

Francesco Della Corte

Affiliation: CRIMEDIM - Research Center in Emergency and Disaster Medicine and Computer Science applied to Medical Practice; Università del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy

Recent Posts

Art of Disaster Preparedness in European Union: a Survey on the Health Systems

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Introduction: Naturally occurring and man-made disasters have been increasing in the world, including Europe, over the past several decades. Health systems are a key part of any community disaster management system. The success of preparedness and prevention depends on the success of activities such as disaster planning, organization and training. The aim of this study is to evaluate health system preparedness for disasters in the 27 European Union member countries.

Method: A cross-sectional analysis study was completed between June-September 2012. The checklist used for this survey was a modified from the World Health Organization toolkit for assessing health-system capacity for crisis management. Three specialists from each of the 27 European Union countries were included in the survey. Responses to each survey question were scored and the range of preparedness level was defined as 0-100%, categorized in three levels as follows: Acceptable; Transitional; or Insufficient.

Results: Response rate was 79.1%. The average level of disaster management preparedness in the health systems of 27 European Union member states was 68% (Acceptable). The highest level of preparedness was seen in the United Kingdom, Luxemburg, and Lithuania. Considering the elements of disaster management system, the highest level of preparedness score was at health information elements (86%), and the lowest level was for hospitals, and educational elements (54%).

Conclusion: This survey study suggests that preparedness level of European Union countries in 2012 is at an acceptable level but could be improved. Elements such as hospitals and education and training suffer from insufficient levels of preparedness. The European Union health systems need a collective strategic plan, as well as enough resources, to establish a comprehensive and standardized disaster management strategy plan. A competency based training curriculum for managers and first responders is basic to accomplishing this goal.

Keywords: Disaster medicine; Disaster preparedness; Disaster epidemiology; Health systems; European Union

Combining Dedicated Online Training and Apprenticeships in the Field to Assist in Professionalization of Humanitarian Aid Workers: a 2-year Pilot Project for Anesthesia and Intensive Care Residents Working in Resource Constrained and Low-income Countries

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Introduction:
As a result of the gaps in humanitarian response highlighted by several reports, the international community called for an increased professionalization of humanitarian aid workers. This paper describes a pilot project by an Italian university and a non-profit, non-governmental organization to implement a medical apprenticeship in low-income countries during Anesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine residencies.

Methods:
Before deployment, participants were required to complete a dedicated online training course about safety and security in the field, principles of anesthesia at the district hospital level, emergency and essential surgical care, essentials of medical treatment in resource-constrained environments and psychological support in emergencies.

Results:
At the end of the program, a qualitative self-evaluation questionnaire administered to participants highlighted how the project allowed the participants to advance their professional skills when working in a low-resource environment, while also mastering their adapting skills and the ability to interact and cooperate with local healthcare personnel. The project also proved to be a means for personal growth, making these experiences a recommendation for all residents as a necessary step for the professionalization of healthcare personnel involved in humanitarian aid.

Utstein-Style Template for Uniform Data Reporting of Acute Medical Response in Disasters

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Background: In 2003, the Task Force on Quality Control of Disaster Management (WADEM) published guidelines for evaluation and research on health disaster management and recommended the development of a uniform data reporting tool. Standardized and complete reporting of data related to disaster medical response activities will facilitate the interpretation of results, comparisons between medical response systems and quality improvement in the management of disaster victims.

Methods: Over a two-year period, a group of 16 experts in the fields of research, education, ethics and operational aspects of disaster medical management from 8 countries carried out a consensus process based on a modified Delphi method and Utstein-style technique.

Results: The EMDM Academy Consensus Group produced an Utstein-style template for uniform data reporting of acute disaster medical response, including 15 data elements with indicators, that can be used for both research and quality improvement.

Conclusion: It is anticipated that the Utstein-style template will enable better and more accurate completion of reports on disaster medical response and contribute to further scientific evidence and knowledge related to disaster medical management in order to optimize medical response system interventions and to improve outcomes of disaster victims.