Planning for Kids: Preparedness and PediatricsPosted on by
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As demonstrated in events like the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the Ebola response of 2014, children can be particularly vulnerable in emergency situations. Children are still developing physically, emotionally, and socially and often require different responses to events than adults. With children ages 0 to 17 representing nearly a quarter of the US population, the specific needs of children during planning for natural, accidental, and intentional disasters has become a national priority.
Collaboration is Key
To practice preparedness among first responders, CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) joined forces to host a tabletop exercise on responding to an infectious disease threat at the federal, state, and local levels. Pediatric clinicians and public health representatives within federal region VI, (i.e. the “TALON” states of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and New Mexico) worked in teams to develop responses to a simulated outbreak of pediatric smallpox. Representatives collaborated to identify potential disease contacts, develop plans for Strategic National Stockpile countermeasure distribution, and communicate effectively with other health leaders to meet pediatric care needs. Children tend to have different exposure risks, need different doses of medications, and have more diverse physical and emotional needs than adults during a public health emergency. This training exercise served as a model to increase the focus on the unique needs of children in emergency preparedness and response activities.
Bringing health professionals from different backgrounds together demonstrated how building connections during public health emergencies can improve response efforts and save lives. The day-long exercise gave participants the opportunity to see different problem-solving skills and unique viewpoints that other responders brought to the scenario.
One participant in the exercise, Curtis Knoles, MD, FAAP, commented, “The exercise gave a good understanding of next steps we need to take; identify all the players involved with the pediatrics community and get them tied into the state department of health.”
Practice like the Pros at Home
While the tabletop exercise focused on emergency planning and response on a broad level, there are many ways you can practice keeping your children safe during an emergency, too. Check out some of the resources below for resources and ideas on how you can keep your family prepared!
- Make creating your emergency kit fun—let your kids pick out some snacks and games to include! Be sure to have a kit at home and in the car!
- Get your kids involved with emergency preparedness with Ready Wrigley games, coloring pages, and checklists
- Make and practice plans for where to go and how to communicate in case of an emergency