The public health system has a specialized body of knowledge and expertise in bioterrorism and public health emergency management that can assist in the development and delivery of continuing medical education programs to meet the needs of emergency medical service providers.
A nationally representative sample of the basic and paramedic emergency medical service providers in the United States was surveyed to assess whether they had received training in weapons of mass destruction, bioterrorism, chemical terrorism, radiological terrorism, and/or public health emergencies, and how the training was provided.
Local health departments provided little in the way of training in biologic, chemical, or radiological terrorism to responders (7.4%–14.9%). State health departments provided even less training (6.3%–17.3%) on all topics to emergency medical services providers. Training that was provided by the health department in bioterrorism and public health emergency response was associated with responder comfort in responding to a bioterrorism event (OR = 2.74, 95% CI = 2.68, 2.81).
Local and state public health agencies should work with the emergency medical services systems to develop and deliver training with an all-hazards approach to disasters and other public health emergencies.