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Terrorism Preparedness Training for Nonclinical Hospital Workers:: Empowering Them to Take Action

Thorne, Craig D. MD, MPH; Curbow, Barbara PhD; Oliver, Marc RN, MPH, MA; Al-Ibrahim, Mohamed MD; McDiarmid, Melissa MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2003 - Volume 45 - Issue 3 - p 333-337
doi: 10.1097/01.jom.0000052966.43131.18

While aspects of the national response to the last years’ terrorist attacks have included preparedness training for health care institutions, much of the focus has been on clinician recognition of biologic exposures. However, many hospital workers have nonclinical responsibilities (such as housekeepers and mailroom workers) and many more, though active in clinical care, are para-professionals with limited medical training (such as nursing assistants). These workers are critical to the achievement of our institution’s mission to provide competent and compassionate medical care, even during an emergency. In recognition of this, and to understand their attitudes and concerns, we conducted focus groups. The process provided a forum to receive immediate feedback from the workers, and will be used to design customized knowledge and skills training sessions that empower them to take proper responsive action should a terrorist attack occur. Our experience may be useful to others who are planning terrorism preparedness training programs.

From the Occupational Health Program, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD (Dr Thorne, Dr McDiarmid, Mr Oliver); Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (Dr Curbow); and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Maryland Health Care System (Dr Al-Ibrahim).

Address correspondence to: Craig Thorne, Occupational Health Program, University of Maryland School of Medicine, 405 West Redwood Street, 2nd Floor, Baltimore, Maryland 21202; e-mail:

©2003The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine