"Because of recent terrorist attacks, hospitals are devoting increased attention to disaster preparedness by reexamining disaster plans and training hospital staff to respond to a mass casualty incident (MCI). An MCI is defined in this report as an incident that results in multiple casualties that overwhelm local resources and that may involve natural, biological, chemical, nuclear, or other agents. This evidence report identifies and synthesizes evidence on the effectiveness of hospital disaster drills, computer simulations, and tabletop or other exercises in training hospital staff to respond to an MCI, and it reviews the methods or tools that have been used to evaluate these types of training activities. The Evidence-based Practice Center (EPC) searched for articles published through January 2003 using six electronic databases, including PubMed®, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, the Excerpta Medica database (EMBASE), the Educational Research Information Clearinghouse, the specialized Register of Effective Practice and Organization of Care Cochrane Review Group, and the Research and Development Resource Base in Continuing Medical Education. Search terms included mass casualty, disaster, disaster planning, and drill. The EPC also conducted a hand search of references and selected journals. […] We concluded that enough studies were available to suggest that hospital disaster drills were effective in training hospital staff to respond to an MCI; however, weaknesses in study design limit the strength of these conclusions. Although computer simulations and tabletop and other exercises may have a role in identifying problems in disaster preparedness, the evidence is insufficient to judge their effectiveness in training."
AHRQ Publication No. 04-E015-2
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality: http://www.ahrq.gov/