Experts meet in Scottsdale to seek improvements in pediatric disaster response

Children’s needs are often overlooked in disaster planning, but members of the National Pediatric Disaster Coalition Conference Planning Committee aim to reverse that trend by offering education from some of the world’s leading experts in pediatric disaster response.

The National Pediatric Disaster Coalition Conference is designed to provide tools, training, resources and information for physicians, nurses, first responders, public health and community planners, hospital administrators, educators and others when it convenes Nov. 2-4 at the Camelback Inn in Paradise Valley.

Keynote speaker is Michael R. Anderson, M.D., chair of the U.S. Health and Human Services National Advisory Committee on Children and Disasters. Dr. Anderson also chairs the National Children’s Hospitals Disaster Task Force and is a consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Disaster Medical System.
A pediatrician, Dr. Anderson is vice president and chief medical officer at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

“There are huge differences in responding to pediatric injuries and those gaps were apparent during situations like the Boston and Oklahoma City bombings, Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, and other incidents,” says conference planning committee chair Dan Stanley, director of Emergency Preparedness for Tucson Medical Center and chair of the Arizona Pediatric Disaster Coalition.

“Our goal is to bring together caregivers, planners and experts from around the country to build on existing experiences to improve pediatric disaster planning.”

The federal government is ill-equipped for responding to children’s needs during large-scale disasters. According to a 2015 report by advocacy group Save the Children, 79 percent of the recommendations of the 2010 National Commission for Children and Disaster Report that were formed after Hurricane Katrina still have not been achieved.

“Special challenges remain for the pediatric population compared to adults. Issues such as injury assessment and treatment protocols, mass casualty preparedness, identification and family reunification, mental health and disaster recovery are areas that have been identified for improvement,” explains Pat Frost, founder and co-chair of the California State Neonatal and Pediatric Disaster Preparedness Coalition and conference planning committee member.
Speakers at the National Pediatric Disaster Coalition Conference will share their experiences and lessons learned from treating children victims of terror attacks, explosions, tornados, hurricanes and other crisis situations.

According to Anthony Gilchrest, conference planning committee member and Emergency Medical Services Program Manager and lead for the pediatric Disaster Community of Practice Initiative for the Emergency Medical Services for Children National Resource Center, the conference’s mission is to:

• Build relationships, fostering dialogue between organizations to collaborate and partner on pediatric preparedness;

• Assess critical gaps identified by stakeholders as obstacles to pediatric preparedness and identify solutions or recommendations for addressing the gaps;

• Share best practices and lessons learned;

• Build upon existing efforts to address children’s disaster related needs and upon existing avenues for implementing those efforts; and

• Generate opportunities for community, regional, state and federal coalitions and alliances.

A $100 discount on registration for the National Pediatric Disaster Coalition Conference is available through Sept. 30. The full agenda, speaker list, registration and continuing education credit information can be found at npdcconference.org. The program is sponsored by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

The National Pediatric Disaster Coalition Conference was developed by the National Pediatric Disaster Coalition Conference Planning Committee, the Arizona Department of Health Services, and the Arizona Pediatric Disaster Coalition. The conference is managed by Coyote Crisis Collaborative, an Arizona-based non-profit that works to provide community disaster response training and solutions.

For more information visit npdcconference.org or contact Deborah Roepke, executive director of the Coyote Crisis Collaborative, at 480-861-5722 or deb.roepke@coyotecrisis.org.

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