The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2008 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Alisa G. French1

Background: Respiratory therapists (RT's) are increasingly involved in disaster management however; disaster training is not routinely included in most RT program curriculum. This study was designed to assess the response of RT students upon completion of the national Basic Disaster Life Support (BDLS) program sponsored by the National Disaster Life Support Foundation (NDLSF) and the American Medical Association.

Methods: A hard-copy Likert scaled survey was distributed to all the RT students and faculty who attended the free, eight hour didactic training. n=35 surveys were completed prior to the training and 36 surveys were collected upon completion. Students received a BDLS manual and certificate upon successful exam completion. To maintain BDLS credentials, renewal training is needed every three years.

Results: Prior to the training, 86% of respondents indicated understanding the need for RT's to be involved in the training. Post completion, 97% of the students reported they understood the need for RT's to be involved. Prior to the training, 88% of the students indicated an awareness of disaster and mass casualty incident. Post the training, 94% of the students indicated awareness. Prior to the training, 29% of the students reported an understanding of the triage model; post the training 97% reported an understanding of the model. Prior to the training, 94% said they were interested in learning about BDLS, and post training 75% indicated they would now like to learn more on these topics.

Conclusion: RT students expressed both interest and desire to participate in BDLS training. They had a better grasp of their role and crucial topics, such as the triage model, traumatic, explosive, biological and chemical events, the public health system and the psychosocial aspects of disasters after completing the program. However, first year RT students may have difficulty discussing and implementing the triage model due to limited exposure to critical care. More research is needed on this topic.

Respiratory Care programs should consider including BDLS into their curriculum, as participants are better prepared to respond to a disaster. The trainers in our BDLS program expressed that our country critically needs better disaster prepared healthcare professionals and forebode the audience that it is not a manner of will a mass casualty happen in the United States, but rather when will it happen, and will we a nation be prepared?