Better funding and integration of emergency and trauma services, improved
and sustained training of physicians and other emergency health care workers,
and enhanced legal protection of first responders to a disaster are the broad
goals issued by an 18-member coalition of health care and medical
organizations in a 54-page report titled "Improving Health System
Preparedness for Terrorism and Mass-Casualty Events."
The coalition was led by the AMA and the American Public Health Association
(APHA). The report, issued last month, includes 53 strategic recommendations
for legislators, government officials, and organizational leaders to prepare
for and respond to catastrophic emergencies more effectively.
The goal of the recommendations is to strengthen health system preparedness
and response through increased funding, greater integration, continued
education and training, and legal protections for responders.
"Most disasters are unplanned, but the response shouldn't be,"
said AMA President Ronald Davis, M.D., in a statement following release of the
report. "Whether disasters are natural or man-made, infectious-disease
pandemics or terrorist attacks, physicians, health care professionals, and
public health workers must be prepared to respond to emergencies and aid in
the recovery efforts that follow. We can't predict when a disaster will
strike, but as first responders, we can better prepare ourselves and others to
protect the health and safety of our patients and citizens."
The AMA and APHA convened the AMA/APHA Linkages Leadership Summit, which
met in 2005 in Chicago and 2006 in New Orleans, to develop recommendations
that promote a coordinated national agenda for strengthening health-system
preparedness for terrorism and other disasters. The call to action stresses
the following critical recommendations:
"For too long, public health and medicine have responded to
emergencies in separate silos," said Georges Benjamin, M.D., executive
director of the APHA, in a statement. The report "represents our attempt
to bridge the gap so that our health care and public health systems are fully
integrated and interoperable in ways that allow for a rapid and efficient
The AMA/APHA Linkages Leadership Summit project was funded under a
cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
Terrorism Injuries: Information Dissemination and Exchange program.
The following organizations are members of the AMA/APHA Linkages Leadership
Summit: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Emergency
Physicians, American College of Surgeons, American Dental Association,
American Hospital Association, American Nurses Association, American
Osteopathic Association, American Trauma Society, Association of State and
Territorial Health Officials, Emergency Nurses Association, National
Association of County and City Health Officials, National Association of EMS
Physicians, National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, National
Association of State EMS Officials, National Native American EMS Association,
and State and Territorial Injury Prevention Directors Association.
The report and recommendations are posted at<www.ama-assn.org/go/disasterpreparedness>.▪