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Health Information Preparing Hospitals for the Littlest Victims of Terrorism

Children are particularly vulnerable to all forms of disasters, especially terrorism. Named as a bioterrorism preparedness Center of Excellence by the Chicago Department of Health in 2002, Rush has been identified as an advocate for children exposed to terrorism and disasters.

"In a disaster situation, emergency physicians need to be well versed on the treatment guidelines for babies and small children," says Paul N. Severin, MD, a pediatric intensivist and assistant director of affiliated programs at Rush University Simulator Lab. "Children are not just little adults. They can have different medical vulnerabilities. For example, children can respond in exactly the opposite way than an adult would to some chemical agents," he says.

Severin and his team at the simulator lab offer workshops that provide knowledge and hands-on training in emergency resuscitation for children exposed to chemical agents of terrorism. The simulation sessions are rapid-paced, high intensity clinical situations that simulate a hospital setting during a terrorist attack.

A baby simulator, "BabySim," is used to add to the realism of the sessions. BabySim has many life-like functions that enhance the training, such as blinking eyes, chest movements with respiration, palpable pulses, exhalation of carbon dioxide, crying, coughing, and much more. The baby simulator even allows performance of clinical tasks such as tracheal intubation, insertion of intravenous or bladder catheters, and chest compressions.

"We have found there is a need for this type of pediatric-specific training," Severin says. "During a disaster, hospitals often plan to transfer pediatric patients to children's facilities. However, that may not be an option. Therefore, everyone must be prepared to act effectively and efficiently."

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Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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