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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2007 Nov-Dec;22(6):537-40.

Principles of disaster planning for the pediatric population.

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  • 1Philadelphia University, School of Science and Health, School House Lane and Henry Avenue Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19144, USA.


Unique physiological, developmental, and psychological attributes of children make them one of the more vulnerable populations during mass-casualty incidents. Because of their distinctive vulnerabilities, it is crucial that pediatric needs are incorporated into every stage of disaster planning. Individuals, families, and communities can help mitigate the effects of disasters on pediatric populations through ongoing awareness and preventive practices. Mitigation efforts also can be achieved through education and training of the healthcare workforce. Preparedness activities include gaining Emergency Medical Services for Children Pediatric Facility Recognition, conducting pediatric disaster drills, improving pediatric surge capacity, and ensuring that the needs of children are incorporated into all levels of disaster plans. Pediatric response can be improved in a number of ways, including: (1) enhanced pediatric disaster expertise; (2) altered decontamination protocols that reflect pediatric needs; and (3) minimized parent-child separation. Recovery efforts at the pediatric level include promoting specific mental health therapies for children and incorporating children into disaster relief and recovery efforts. Improving pediatric emergency care needs should be at the forefront of every disaster planner's agenda.

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