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Education in Disaster Management and Emergencies: Defining a New European Course

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2015

Amir Khorram-Manesh*
Prehospital and Disaster Medicine Center, Department of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden
Michael Ashkenazi
Bonn International Center for Conversion, Bonn, Germany
Ahmadreza Djalali
CRIMEDIM, Universita del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy
Pier Luigi Ingrassia
CRIMEDIM, Universita del Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy
Tom Friedl
NHCS, National Health Career School of Management, Hennigsdorf/Berlin, Germany
Gotz von Armin
NHCS, National Health Career School of Management, Hennigsdorf/Berlin, Germany
Olivera Lupesco
URGENTA, Clinical Emergency Hospital, Bucharest, Romania
Kubilay Kaptan
AFAM, Disaster Research Center, Istanbul Aydin University, Istanbul, Turkey
Chris Arculeo
Hanover Associates, Teddington, London, United Kingdom
Boris Hreckovski
CROUMSA, Croatian Urgent Medicine and Surgery Association, Slav. Brod, Croatia
Radko Komadina
SBC, General and Teaching Hospital Celje, Medical faculty Ljubljana, Slovenia
Philipp Fisher
University Clinic Bonn, Department of Orthopedic and Trauma Surgery, Bonn, Germany
Stefan Voigt
DLR, German Aerospace Center, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
James James
Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Bethesda, MD, USA
Elin Gursky
Analytic Services, Inc., Falls Church, VA, USA.
Correspondence and reprint requests to Amir Khorram-Manesh, MD, PhD, Prehospital and Disaster Medicine Center, Department of Clinical Sciences, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden (e-mail:



Unremitting natural disasters, deliberate threats, pandemics, and humanitarian suffering resulting from conflict situations necessitate swift and effective response paradigms. The European Union’s (EU) increasing visibility as a disaster response enterprise suggests the need not only for financial contribution but also for instituting a coherent disaster response approach and management structure. The DITAC (Disaster Training Curriculum) project identified deficiencies in current responder training approaches and analyzed the characteristics and content required for a new, standardized European course in disaster management and emergencies.


Over 35 experts from within and outside the EU representing various organizations and specialties involved in disaster management composed the DITAC Consortium. These experts were also organized into 5 specifically tasked working groups. Extensive literature reviews were conducted to identify requirements and deficiencies and to craft a new training concept based on research trends and lessons learned. A pilot course and program dissemination plan was also developed.


The lack of standardization was repeatedly highlighted as a serious deficiency in current disaster training methods, along with gaps in the command, control, and communication levels. A blended and competency-based teaching approach using exercises combined with lectures was recommended to improve intercultural and interdisciplinary integration.


The goal of a European disaster management course should be to standardize and enhance intercultural and inter-agency performance across the disaster management cycle. A set of minimal standards and evaluation metrics can be achieved through consensus, education, and training in different units. The core of the training initiative will be a unit that presents a realistic situation “scenario-based training.” (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:245-255)

Original Research
Copyright © Society for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, Inc. 2015 

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