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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2011 Jun;26(3):230-3. doi: 10.1017/S1049023X11006455. Epub 2011 Sep 20.

Computer-facilitated assessment of disaster preparedness for remote hospitals in a long-distance, virtual tabletop drill model.

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Director of Center for Clinical Simulation, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, USA.



Emergency preparedness experts generally are based at academic or governmental institutions. A mechanism for experts to remotely facilitate a distant hospital's disaster readiness is lacking.


The objective of this study was to develop and examine the feasibility of an Internet-based software tool to assess disaster preparedness for remote hospitals using a long-distance, virtual, tabletop drill.


An Internet-based system that remotely acquires information and analyzes disaster preparedness for hospitals at a distance in a virtual, tabletop drill model was piloted. Nine hospitals in Cape Town, South Africa designated as receiving institutions for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Games and its organizers, utilized the system over a 10-week period. At one-week intervals, the system e-mailed each hospital's leadership a description of a stadium disaster and instructed them to login to the system and answer questions relating to their hospital's state of readiness. A total of 169 questions were posed relating to operational and surge capacities, communication, equipment, major incident planning, public relations, staff safety, hospital supplies, and security in each hospital. The system was used to analyze answers and generate a real-time grid that reflected readiness as a percent for each hospital in each of the above categories. It also created individualized recommendations of how to improve preparedness for each hospital. To assess feasibility of such a system, the end users' compliance and response times were examined.


Overall, compliance was excellent with an aggregate response rate of 98%. The mean response interval, defined as the time elapsed between sending a stimuli and receiving a response, was eight days (95% CI = 8-9 days).


A web-based data acquisition system using a virtual, tabletop drill to remotely facilitate assessment of disaster preparedness is efficient and feasible. Weekly reinforcement for disaster preparedness resulted in strong compliance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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