The AMA, in conjunction with four academic medical centers, has launched a program to train physicians and other healthcare professionals to respond to disaster situations and other events involving mass casualties.
The newly established Center for Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response will coordinate training efforts of the AMA and the National Disaster Life Support Education Consortium and develop coursework in basic and advanced disaster life support, AMA officials said at a press conference today in Chicago.
"You get incremental improvement (in the public health system), but you also get a base," says James James, M.D., director of the center. "We're trying to set a floor. We want everyone to at least start out with the minimal competencies."
The education consortium, which includes U.S. and international experts in emergency response, is a program formed under a Centers and Disease Control and Prevention grant following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Four consortium members--the Medical College of Georgia, the University of Georgia, the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center at Dallas and the University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health--are working with the AMA on the new project to create continuing medical education and certification programs in disaster response.
"It can be a CME vehicle or it can be a stand-alone course," James says. He says the AMA will handle certification of medical professionals in disaster response.
Nearly immediately, the participating organizations will offer basic disaster life support courses; the advanced curriculum will follow in several months.
"BDLS is launching today for all healthcare providers," James says. The ADLS curriculum is "ready to go," according to James, "but we don't have the necessary infrastructure to get it out there just yet."
James says the new project first must recruit faculty to oversee the educational programs. "We will start with eight to 10 faculty and that will grow dramatically as we start to do train-the-trainer activities."
Program leaders will get together Tuesday at the AMA's annual House of Delegates meeting in Chicago to discuss logistics for the courses, James says. Issues to be resolved include who will host the online versions of the course offerings and growth strategies.
"Our eventual target audience is all healthcare providers," says James. "It depends on how fast an electronic version can come online."
An initial informational page is up on the Medical College of Georgia Web site.