--> Gill Blog: NYU Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response

Gill Blog

Monday, March 14, 2005

NYU Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response

A report prepared by New York University’s Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response highlighting deficiencies in funding, training, and equipment to enable emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to respond to a major terrorist attack has prompted United States Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine to sponsor federal legislation that will improve the preparedness of the EMS system through more effective coordination of Federal programs.

Emergency Medical Services: The Forgotten First Responder, (pdf) which reflects the outcome of a national roundtable of EMS and emergency officials held by the Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response (CCPR) in December 2004 and a review of recent federal and independent reports, found a number of critical issues facing EMS systems in homeland security preparedness.

These critical issues include a lack of standards dictating how many EMS personnel should have protective equipment and how many should participate in mass casualty exercises; inadequate preparedness training for EMS personnel; insufficient homeland security funding devoted to EMS systems; and exclusion of EMS leadership from many emergency planning efforts.
Tim Raducha-Grace, Director of Research and Programs for NYU’s Center, said, “Emergency medical services personnel – paramedics and EMTs – are critical resources in the event of a major terrorist attack or catastrophic event. Yet, while the skills for delivering emergency medical care are well honed and their courage is unquestioned, they receive inadequate support to safeguard themselves in a perilous environment. If EMS personnel are not prepared for a terrorist attack, their ability to provide medical care and transport victims will be compromised. There will be an inadequate medical first response.”

Among the key recommendations in the CCPR report are:

* Legislation to establish a federal interagency committee on EMS to coordinate programs and improve preparedness.

* The establishment of EMS-specific terrorism preparedness standards and guidelines by federal agencies.

* Increased homeland security funding for EMS systems and personnel.


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