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Community Engagement and Pediatric Disaster Readiness in a Large Urban Disaster Resource Hospital Network: The Case of “The Great California ShakeOut”

  • Darshi Balasuriya, Ellen Iverson, Rita V. Burke and Jeffrey S. Upperman

We examined the response of 11 Los Angeles County (LAC) hospitals designated as Disaster Resource Centers (DRCs) to a statewide, earthquake preparedness drill, LAC's most comprehensive earthquake disaster drill to date. Semistructured interviews were conducted with the coordinators of 11 of the 14 LAC DRCs within 3 weeks of the drill. Interviews were transcribed and thematic analysis was supported by analytical software (Atlas.ti). Except for one pediatric specialty DRC, most DRCs did little to fully test their institutions' capacity to manage pediatric patients. Few DRCs included children as mock victims. Little or no attention was focused on pediatric triage and other pediatric clinical, psychosocial, and resource issues. Respondents maintained that community readiness is hampered by compartmentalizing the preparedness planning, training, and drilling. Without a mandate to coordinate with other agencies, few DRCs reported coordination with other community entities. Those that did were in smaller submunicipalities within LAC. Community coordination is critical to effective response to disasters, yet disaster preparedness planning and drills are most often uncoordinated and compartmentalized. Drills and training need to be transdisciplinary and coordinated with other community entities likely to play a role in pediatric disaster management.

(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;6:182–186)

Corresponding author
Correspondence: Jeffrey S. Upperman, MD, Division of Pediatric Surgery, Children's Hospital, Los Angeles Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, 4650 Sunset Blvd. MS#100, Los Angeles, CA 90027(e-mail:
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Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness
  • ISSN: 1935-7893
  • EISSN: 1938-744X
  • URL: /core/journals/disaster-medicine-and-public-health-preparedness
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