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Instrument development and evaluation of domestic preparedness training for first responders.

Beaton-RD; Johnson-LC
Prehosp Disast Med 2002 Jul-Sep; 17(3):119-125
In the wake of domestic terrorists attacks on 11 September 2001 and subsequent bioterrorist events employing anthrax, there no longer can be any debate about the potential for attacks employing Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical (NBC)/Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). As one way of acknowledging this long-standing threat and, in a concerted effort to mitigate the effects of possible future domestic NBC/WMD terrorist attacks, the US Department of Defense (DOD) and other US governmental agencies already had mounted an effort to provide Domestic Preparedness Training for First Responders in urban centers throughout the USA. A paper and pencil questionnaire specifically designed to evaluate the effectiveness of Domestic Preparedness Training for Emergency First Responders has been developed. An earlier version of this instrument was piloted with a convenience sample of firefighters and paramedics (n = 78) in a northwest state. Based on replies to the pilot questionnaire, a pool of 27 items based on the objectives and content of the NBC/WMD Domestic Preparedness Awareness and Operations courses (plus additional background and appraised competency items) were selected for inclusion in a Domestic Preparedness Questionnaire (DPQ). This paper first describes the essential psychometric properties of the DPQ based on replies from baseline and follow-up samples (n = 206 and n = 246 respectively) of urban firefighters and paramedics employed by a metropolitan city in a northwest state. The DPQ was employed to evaluate the outcomes of Domestic Preparedness training provided to a sample of urban fire-service personnel. The DPQ documented significant improvements in a group of "DP trained"-urban firefighters (n = 80) both in their awareness and operations content knowledge as well as in their perceived competencies to respond to acts of biological, chemical, or nuclear terrorism "in their own community" at four months post-training. A comparison group of "Not DP-trained" firefighters (n = 78) showed no statistically significant changes on these DPQ indices, suggesting that the documented improvements in the "DP-trained" firefighters on the DPQ were not due to "test reactivity" or to "historical" factors. The findings suggest that the DPQ has adequate inter-item and test-retest reliability, possesses concurrent validity, and appears to be a sensitive measure of the Domestic Preparedness Training provided for urban firefighter and paramedic First Responders.
Emergency-responders; Emergency-response; Training; Biological-warfare-agents; Biological-weapons; Nuclear-hazards; Fire-fighters; Fire-fighting; Questionnaires
Randal D. Beaton, PhD, EMT, Department of Psychosocial and Community Health, Box 357263, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-7263, USA
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Journal Article
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Prehospital and Disaster Medicine
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Washington University, Seattle, Washington