bioterrorism, disaster preparedness, emergency management, school nurses



  1. Mosca, Nancy W. PhD, RN
  2. Sweeney, Patricia M. JD, MPH, RN
  3. Hazy, John M. PhD
  4. Brenner, Paul BA


Meeting the complex needs of a school system and all its members in the event of a bioterrorism (BT) disaster demands a competent workforce. School nurses are in position to be key contributors to planning for and responding to potential BT and disaster events. As part of a state preparedness leadership institute, the BT and disaster preparedness needs of school nurses in a three-county area were assessed and the nurses' preferred method to meet those needs was determined. Using competencies derived from publications by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Association of School Nurses, a survey was created and mailed to school nurses (N = 125) in public and private k-12 schools. Eighty surveys were returned (64% response rate). Responses were analyzed according to BT and emergency preparedness competencies and skills required for the phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Low confidence in preparedness capabilities across almost all categories was reported. High training need was identified across almost all competencies, with 63 percent to 70 percent requesting additional education related to emergency response, infectious disease, hazardous materials, and diagnostic criteria. Although two-thirds report having Internet access in their school office, traditional classroom instruction was overwhelmingly preferred (74%) for training.