The role of education and hands-on training in emergency preparedness and response

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The role of education and hands-on training in emergency preparedness and response

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Natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina and manmade catastrophes such as the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center have tested the public health response capabilities of the United States. While each disaster be it natural or manmade will have different characteristics; however, they require the same all-hazards response. This type of response, education and training of the public health workforce serves to prepare them for an effective response to any potential public health threat. While it is essential for public health professionals to receive effective preparedness education and training, it is also crucial that learned knowledge and skills are retained and regularly applied to individual and/or organizational performance capability. The purpose of this process and outcome cross-sectional retrospective study is to evaluate training effectiveness of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Division of Strategic National Stockpile Training Program (SNS). The SNS training program is part of a nationwide preparedness training and education program for employees of state and local health departments, emergency management agencies, health care providers, as well as other first responders. The goal of this research study was to examine whether the SNS training program impacted individual behavior and/or organizational performance in emergency preparedness and response. This survey assessed participants' overall reaction to the training course; knowledge including retention and/or decay; participant-reported behavior change within their response role; and participants' self-reported contribution to improving organizational performance.For the purposes of this research, a survey adapted from Kirkpatrick's learning and training evaluation theory was designed, pilot tested, and validated. Correlation from the pilot study showed high internal reliability (>0.70 Cronbach's alpha) for the reaction, learning, and behavior construct. The results construct showed an insufficient Cronbach's alpha coefficient. A total of 93 participants responded to the pilot study and a total of 342 (229 from SNS training, 62 from MPC training, and 51 from MAD training) participants responded to the full study. This evaluation research study has provided significant findings on the effectiveness of the Strategic National Stockpile Training Program. Overall, participants responded positively about their reaction of their overall experience and the knowledge and skills learned from the training course. In general, individuals with less prior knowledge in the SNS, Mass Mobile Preparedness Training (MPC), or Mass Antibiotic Dispensing (MAD) training course gained more knowledge through the training course. More than 70% of respondents had applied knowledge and skills learned from the training course to their response role and/or their organization's response capabilities. Knowledge retention was not significantly different across course years among respondents of the SNS, MPC, and the MAD courses. This research study reinforced that evidence-based training is a key component of preparedness planning and response activities designed to effectively prepare for, respond to and recover from public health emergencies and natural disasters. The overall findings obtained from this study can be used to improve the effectiveness of the SNS training program. They are also useful for reinforcing the impact of training to improve public health preparedness to funding sources in both the public and private sector. In addition, information collected also provides critical data for evaluating the progress and performance of the CDC DSNS training program. These findings provide baseline data for policy makers to evaluate existing programs in order to determine further continuation and/or expand successful programs and eliminate or modify ineffective ones. This three-part survey questionnaire is a step forward in providing information and resources for standardizing program evaluation for the CDC DSNS training program as well as state public health agencies for training evaluation efforts.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2012. Major: Environmental Health. Advisor: Debra Olson. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 212 pages, appendices A-E.

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Doan, Thuy Hang T.. (2012). The role of education and hands-on training in emergency preparedness and response. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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