Disaster preparedness education and a Midwest Regional Poison Center


  • Kathy Lehman-Huskamp, MD
  • Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC
  • Frank G. Walter, MD
  • Julie Weber, BS Pharm, CSPI
  • Anthony Scalzo, MD




disaster medicine, Poison Center, education


Objective: To assess knowledge and comfort related to disaster preparedness and response gained and retained from a disaster medicine workshop given to Certified Specialists in Poison Information (CSPI).
Design: A pilot study with a pre-post intervention design.
Setting: A Midwest Regional Poison Center.
Participants: All CSPIs employed at the participating Poison Center (N_ 27) were recruited. Participation ranged from 44 percent (n _ 12) for the 4-month postworkshop knowledge quiz to 78 percent (n _ 21) for the preworkshop survey.
Intervention: A disaster medicine workshop was given to the CSPIs. Quizzes and surveys were done preworkshop and then repeated at 1 week, 4 months, and 14 months postworkshop.
Main Outcome Measures: CSPI knowledge and comfort pertaining to disaster-related calls.
Results: CSPIs’ comfort levels with calls regarding major chemical or nuclear/radiation disasters significantly increased and stayed elevated during all follow-up periods [Kruskal-Wallis _2 (3) _ 13.1, p _ 0.01]. The average preworkshop quiz score was 58.2 percent. A statistically significant increase in mean quiz score was demonstrated amongst preworkshop and postworkshop scores at all tested time intervals (F _ 18.8, p _ 0.001).
Conclusions: CSPIs’ knowledge regarding disaster management significantly increased after a disaster medicine workshop, and this knowledge was significantly retained for the 14-month duration of this study. Currently, there are no uniform guidelines for Poison Centers regarding disaster response training. Studies targeted at the development of educational competencies for CSPIs and disaster response would help to standardize this much needed education.

Author Biographies

Kathy Lehman-Huskamp, MD

Assistant Professor, Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri; SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

Terri Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC

Assistant Professor, Institute for Biosecurity, Saint Louis University, School of Public Health, St. Louis, Missouri.

Frank G. Walter, MD

Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona; Arizona Emergency Medicine Research Center, Tucson, Arizona.

Julie Weber, BS Pharm, CSPI

Managing Director, Missouri Regional Poison Center, SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center, St. Louis, Missouri.

Anthony Scalzo, MD

Professor, Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Toxicology; Medical Director, Missouri Regional Poison Center; SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center; Division Director of Toxicology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.


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How to Cite

Lehman-Huskamp, MD, K., T. Rebmann, PhD, RN, CIC, F. G. Walter, MD, J. Weber, BS Pharm, CSPI, and A. Scalzo, MD. “Disaster Preparedness Education and a Midwest Regional Poison Center”. American Journal of Disaster Medicine, vol. 5, no. 4, July 2010, pp. 229-36, doi:10.5055/ajdm.2010.0028.




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