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Am J Emerg Med. 2001 Sep;19(5):433-6.

Emergency medical technicians' disaster training by tabletop exercise.

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, National Cheng Kung University Hospital, Tainan City, Taiwan.


The objective of this study was to assess the attitudes of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) toward tabletop drills to determine the effect of tabletop simulation on the EMT student perception of disaster preparedness and management. In November 1998 and April 1999, 59 firefighters underwent 260 hours of EMT intermediate level training at the National Cheng Kung University Hospital in Tainan, Taiwan. All participants had experience in field disaster exercise training before they attended this EMT training course. The EMT courses included a disaster and mass-casuality incident program. A 9-item questionnaire was completed by the 59 EMTs before (for field exercise) and after undergoing the tabletop drills. The results of the survey revealed that the field operation exercise could not provide adequate provisions to link the results of disaster exercises to appropriate changes in terms of training, equipment, supplies, and plans. Field operation failed to show the ability of others to fill in during the absence of key officials. Tabletop drilling provided better performance for these 2 issues. Tabletop exercise also provided a better chance than field exercise to evaluate the response without the use of telephones, which are not always reliable in real emergency situation. For disaster exercises, limitations of field operation drills such as communications, coordination, assignment of responsibilities, and postevent mitigation priorities were noted, and tabletop drills provided additional benefits for these settings. Large-scale effect evaluation of different drills may be necessary to design future disaster preparedness programs.

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