Impact of a multidisciplinary disaster response exercise


  • David J. Cook, PhD
  • Niaman Nazir, MBBS, MPH
  • Marta Skalacki, BA
  • Carole Dale Grube, MA
  • Won S. Choi, PhD, MPH



disaster exercise, multidisciplinary response, confidence levels of multidisciplinary disaster responders


Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of a week-long, full-scale training exercise in Kansas on multidisciplinary disaster responders from health and public safety.
Design and setting: Design was structured on phase I (1 to 3 days of classroom training) and phase II (32-hour hands-on collaborative response to a simulated disaster with multiple scenarios). Prospective survey data gathered information from participants in six exercise tracks of Command, Disaster Medicine, Emergency Operations Center, Fire Rescue, Law Enforcement, and Public Information Officer.
Subjects: Three hundred ninety-two multidisciplinary participants voluntarily enrolled through a continuing education registration mechanism, and all completed the exercise.
Interventions: Surveys were completed at preclassroom (90 percent completion rate), postclassroom (81 percent), and postdisaster simulation at 6 months after exercise (33-76 percent).
Main outcome measures: Four primary outcome measures were planned before the exercise began.
Results: Since September 11, 2001, one-third of participants attended one or two similar trainings. Fire rescue participants reported lowest levels of new course content, and disaster medicine the highest. Ninety-five percent of participants reported that personal training goals were met. There were increases in substantial confidence levels in self, agency, the south central state region, and the state to respond to disasters. The least amount of confidence increase was in the state’s ability.
Conclusions: Full-scale exercises require considerable time, resources, and funding; however, they offer attainment/enhancement of skills with immediate application in a team-oriented, practical setting, and this experience is invaluable when responding to real disasters caused by environmental forces, emerging infections, or terrorist events.

Author Biographies

David J. Cook, PhD

Associate Vice Chancellor, Outreach, and Associate Professor, Health Policy and Management, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.

Niaman Nazir, MBBS, MPH

Research Instructor, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.

Marta Skalacki, BA

Writer, Outreach, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.

Carole Dale Grube, MA

Associate Dean, Continuing Education, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.

Won S. Choi, PhD, MPH

Director and Associate Professor, Preventive Medicine and Public Health, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, Kansas.


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How to Cite

Cook, PhD, D. J., N. Nazir, MBBS, MPH, M. Skalacki, BA, C. D. Grube, MA, and W. S. Choi, PhD, MPH. “Impact of a Multidisciplinary Disaster Response Exercise”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 9, no. 4, July 2011, pp. 35-43, doi:10.5055/jem.2011.0065.