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A Gap Analysis Survey of US Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) Members to Determine Highly Infectious Disease Training and Education Needs

  • Aurora B. Le (a1), Rene Herron (a2), Jocelyn J. Herstein (a3), Katelyn C. Jelden (a4), Elizabeth L. Beam (a5) (a6), Shawn G. Gibbs (a1), John J. Lowe (a3) (a5) and Todd D. Smith (a7)...



Despite lessons learned from the recent Ebola epidemic, attempts to survey and determine non-health care worker, industry-specific needs to address highly infectious diseases have been minimal. The aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) industry is often overlooked in highly infectious disease training and education, even though it is critical to their field due to elevated occupational exposure risk during their operations.


A 44-question gap analysis survey was distributed to the ARFF Working Group to determine where highly infectious education and training can be improved. In total, N=245 responses were initiated and collected. Descriptive statistics were generated utilizing Qualtrics Software Version 2016.17©.


Supervisors perceived Frontline respondents to be more willing and comfortable to encounter potential highly infectious disease scenarios than the Frontline indicated. More than one-third of respondents incorrectly marked transmission routes of viral hemorrhagic fevers. There were discrepancies in self-reports on the existence of highly infectious disease orientation and skills demonstration, employee resources, and personal protective equipment policies, with a range of 7.5%-24.0% more Supervisors than Frontline respondents marking activities as conducted.


There are deficits in highly infectious disease knowledge, skills, and abilities among ARFF members that must be addressed to enhance member safety, health, and well-being. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:675-679)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to Aurora B. Le, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Indiana University School of Public Health, 1025 E. Seventh Street, PH 011A, Bloomington, IN 47405 (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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