Pediatric emergency mass critical care: the role of community preparedness in conserving critical care resources

Frederick M Burkle, Alcia Williams, Niranjan Kissoon
Pediatric Critical Care Medicine 2011, 12 (6 Suppl): S141-51

INTRODUCTION: Public health emergencies require resources at state, regional, federal, and often international levels; however, community preparedness is the crucial first step in managing these events and mitigating their consequences, particularly for children. Community preparedness can be optimized through system-wide planning that includes integrating multiple points of contact, such as the community, prehospital care, health facilities, and regional level of care assets.Citizen readiness, call centers, alternate care facilities, emergency medical services, and health emergency operations centers linked to community incident command systems should be considered as important options for delivery of population-based care. Early collaboration between pediatric clinicians and public health authorities is essential to ensure that pediatric needs are addressed in community preparedness for mass critical care events.

METHODS: In May 2008, the Task Force for Mass Critical Care published guidance on provision of mass critical care to adults. Acknowledging that the critical care needs of children during disasters were unaddressed by this effort, a 17-member Steering Committee, assembled by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education with guidance from members of the American Academy of Pediatrics, convened in April 2009 to determine priority topic areas for pediatric emergency mass critical care recommendations.Steering Committee members established subcommittees by topic area and performed literature reviews of MEDLINE and Ovid databases. The Steering Committee produced draft outlines and convened October 6-7, 2009, in New York, NY, to review and revise each outline. Eight draft documents were subsequently developed from the revised outlines as well as through searches of MEDLINE updated through March 2010.The Pediatric Emergency Mass Critical Care Task Force, composed of 36 experts from diverse public health, medical, and disaster response fields, convened in Atlanta, GA, on March 29-30, 2010. Feedback on each manuscript was compiled and the Steering Committee revised each document to reflect expert input in addition to the most current medical literature.

TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS: The Pediatric Emergency Mass Critical Care Task Force recommends active promotion of programs to ensure an informed citizenry; education of children and families in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community mitigation strategies; emphasis on community-level preparedness empowering the public to provide self care; use of 9-1-1 telephone triage with pre-established protocols and in coordination with emergency medical services; and advocacy for healthcare coalitions and other creative operational concepts that provide guidance and protocols for care of the pediatric population.

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