1. Quinn, Colleen M. BSN, RN, CEN, Faculty Advisor
  2. Zuzelo, Patti EdD, APRN, BC, CNS

Article Content


This project evaluated standards and training methods for emergency nursing personnel to improve outcomes postmass causality incidents. The clinical nurse specialist strategized to identify relevant regulatory agencies, compare mass causality training programs, and, develop curriculum for a comprehensive program on emergency preparedness and disaster management for nurses.



Mass causality and emergency preparedness are relatively new concerns in the United States. The increased awareness of the potential for terrorist attacks since 9-11 highlights the need for nurse education and training.



Hazardous materials exposure requires procedures for patient, staff, and environmental protection. There is risk of contamination to staff and facility. Patients may arrive at hospitals unannounced and may not be fully decontaminated. Nurses must know how to protect themselves, care for those who have been directly involved in the incident, and know where to seek additional resources and information.



Policies and procedures were obtained from 6 area healthcare facilities. Clinical nurse specialists were interviewed regarding disaster plans and training programs specifically targeted to emergency department nursing staff. Regulatory agency recommendations were considered when developing the comprehensive clinical training program.



The medical centers researched each developed their own institutional standards, policies, and training programs; however, activation of the plans and continuing education lack consistency.



Emergency personnel and hospitals continue to be under prepared to handle mass casuality incidents. This places the organization at risk due to the potential for internal disaster. Healthcare institutions need a standardized approach for training nurses and front-line personnel. Participants should have the opportunity for extensive hands-on practice, experience wearing respiratory protection and protective clothing, and perform skills relevant to their job description.


Implications for Practice:

Front-line hospital personnel responding to mass casuality incidents who are trained in the appropriate use of protective equipment and familiar with how the hospital intends to respond to hazardous substance incidents will be better prepared to perform their jobs without feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. The risk of contamination to staff and facility will be minimal, and the response and recovery phase will be much less chaotic.