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|Protocols for Managing Child Victims During a Disaster Surge|
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Peter Sternberg, L.C.S.W.
Protocols for Managing Child Victims during a Disaster Surge
In any disaster whether natural or man made, children may be part of the population of victims. Further, children may makeup the largest portion of a surge if a school or day care center is affected by a natural disaster or if children are the express target of terrorist efforts.
Children may present to the hospital with or without their parents or known adult. Their parents may or may not require medical attention themselves. The hospital has protocols in place to address the following:
· Victims requiring medical intervention are triaged with the knowledge that because of their size and physiology children require more immediate attention and intervention than an adult with the same injury and/or exposure.
· Children’s injuries and/or exposure elicit a greater sense of panic amongst parents, rescuers and care providers than similar injuries and/or exposure in an adult.
· Parents’ sense of anxiety about their children requires they learn their child’s whereabouts and condition as a first priority and they are by their child as a second priority.
· Children’s sense of anxiety requires they know their parents whereabouts as a first priority and have their parents with them as the second.
· Children and parents who present to the hospital together may need to be separated for diagnosis or treatment.
· Children who are brought to the hospital without their parents may not be in the company of a known adult and may require crisis intervention simultaneous to triage and medical intervention. Crisis intervention may be necessary to gain the child’s cooperation with diagnosis and treatment. This would be so especially if there were a group of children who required hazardous material decontamination.
· Children may present to the hospital without identification and may be unable to provide identifying information.
· Children brought to the hospital may not require treatment but may require supervision until their parents arrive or their parents are treated.
To address these scenarios, the hospital has the following protocols for which the staff are trained and practiced through drills.