FIU wins $4.8 million to train disaster response medical professionals

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The U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) has awarded Florida International University’s (FIU) Academy for International Disaster Preparedness at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work $4.8 million to train disaster response medical professionals. Over the next five years, participants will work on how to evacuate and provide specialized medical care to patients in-flight.

“As we have experienced during recent disasters, such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, the U.S. needs the ability to safety evacuate medically stable and unstable patients by air in order to reduce unnecessary human suffering and fatalities,” said Ruben D. Almaguer, assistant vice president for Disaster Management and executive director of the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness at FIU. “We are excited to have the opportunity to leverage the skills and knowledge of our university medical and health experts and utilize FIU’s Disaster Medicine Program to enhance the response efforts of the hard-working doctors and nurses that deploy on behalf of HHS/NDMS.”

Together with HHS/NDMS, the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness has developed a five-day, 40-hour course for disaster medical professionals who serve on federal disaster medical assistance teams (DMAT). The training will be provided by faculty members from the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing & Health Sciences, the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work and others. FIU will also leverage partnerships with local hospitals and first responder agencies that specialize in disaster medical care and aeromedical transport.

During the training, doctors, nurses and respiratory therapists will become familiar with specialized medical equipment and conditions on military and civilian aircraft. They will learn to use aeromedical equipment, which is provided by HHS/NDMS.  Through high-fidelity manikin simulations, the students will think through logistical and medical challenges of taking care of patients at 30,000 feet, and will learn techniques to properly monitor, care for and resuscitate patients in a confined, noisy, turbulent environment. Additionally, medical personnel will get a primer on the effects altitude can have on the human physiology, especially children and the critically ill.

The training will take place at Modesto A. Maidique Campus, which includes the use of portable high-fidelity simulation training environments as well as a simulated military and civilian airplane rooms that mimic the high noise level (90 decibels) of both types of aircraft.

As one of six departments within the Stempel College, the Academy for International Disaster Preparedness offers a graduate degree program in disaster management, as well as training and certificates in incident command, fire officer development and the use of unmanned aircraft systems (drones) during disasters.


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