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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3606

Title: First Responder Knowledge and Training Needs for Bioterrorism
Authors: Galada, Heather Corinne
Keywords: Public Health;First Responders;Bioterrorism;Training
Issue Date: 26-Sep-2011
Abstract: Objective: The 2001 anthrax attacks highlighted the need to protect first responders from bioterrorism attacks. While there have been updates to response protocols, the focus of these protocols varies,and first responders may still be unprepared. This study seeks to address the problem of a lack of a specific, universal bioterrorism training program for first responders. The research 1) determines current training practices for bioterrorism incidents, 2) evaluates the effectiveness of current training procedures, 3) investigates differences in training programs based on geography and organization, and 4) assesses attitudes and perceptions of bioterrorism and training. It also identifies areas of weakness and suggests where future training efforts should be focused. Methods: First Responders Knowledge and Training Needs is a descriptive study based on interviews and a survey. The study used a questionnaire containing a combination of qualitative and quantitative questions. Subjects included 70 first responders from the United States who were recruited at a national conference and through personal and professional networking. Subjects’ intuitive assessments of dispersion were contrasted with results of simple dispersion models, the Gaussian puff equation for an outdoor release (Long et al. 2006) and a completely mixed compartment model for an indoor release (Hong et al. 2010). Results: 17.4% of participants did not have any training regarding bioterrorism, while a plurality of participants (29%) had received awareness level training, which is designed for those who require the skills necessary to recognize and report an incident or are likely to witness or investigate an incident. Less than one quarter of participants (24%) had on-line training, and the majority (39%) was trained in-residence at their facility. Less than half of the participants had been trained on how to use on-site testing devices, how to handle an indoor release scenario, or how to handle an outdoor release scenario. Low confidence levels were found regarding the use of on-scene testing devices and responding to outdoor release scenarios. This low confidence responding to an outdoor release where weak evidence was found that participants underestimate downwind risks and overestimate anthrax transfers perpendicular to wind direction during an outdoor release. Regarding personal protective equipment, participants gave varied responses to the level they would choose and the location at which they would dress. Conclusions: A rapid response to a bioterrorism attack is critical for ensuring the safety of American citizens and can save costs associated with medical attention, cleanup, and decontamination efforts (Keim and Kaufmann, 1999 Educating first responders on the proper level and use of personal protective equipment is necessary to ensure they are protected and do not infect their colleagues or family. Utilizing alternative training programs, such as a “train-the-trainer” approach or on-line programs could also increase the number for first responders who have the knowledge and ability to respond to a bioterrorism attack.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1860/3606
Appears in Collections:Health Sciences Theses and Dissertations

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