Pediatric Disaster Planning

View or Download Papers
A Manual for the Hospital
A Field Manual
Protocols for Managing Child Victims During a Disaster Surge
Staff Support - Staff Debriefing
View Bio for
Peter Sternberg, L.C.S.W.


In part because we have had so little experience with Mass Casualty involving Pediatric Victims and this is an area we seem to avoid contemplating, there appear to be holes in our pediatric response plans at the local, county, state and federal level. This is particularly so with regard to a hazardous materials event. A few examples illustrate this:


There are three key issues that prompted the development of the material you see on this site:

  1. There is reason to believe, based on extrapolation from known adult reactions to toxins, that there will be greater morbidity and mortality for child victims of a Hazmat event unless children are decontaminated faster in the field and at the hospital.


  1. A Mass Casualty Event, whether accidental or intentional, actual or a ruse, will trigger acute stress reactions in victims, their families and the community. Critical Incident Debriefing and PTSD counseling are useful interventions after the fact. There is a need for intervention in the moment that will decrease the level, intensity and aftermath of emotional devastation for all affected.


  1. There are highly charged ethical/moral issues that flow from experience of being a responder or receiver of pediatric (and adult) victims in a mass casualty event.  These issues tend to not be openly discussed or planned for and need our attention before the event.

There are three papers and two manuals available to you on this website. The papers review the literature and offer a vision of "best practices" for pediatric victims with regard to the three issues described above.

Since Pediatric Response is a new and evolving area, your reactions to the material and input will be most welcome. Feel free to e-mail or call with your comments, corrections and questions.