The National Disaster Life Support Foundation, based at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, has signed an agreement with the Jiao Tong University School of Medicine in Shanghai and Xingcheng Medical Consulting & Services Company to teach standardized courses on disaster support throughout China.
The courses are part of a program designed to help a wide array of providers – from police to paramedics to hospital administrators and firefighters – best work together in the aftermath of natural and man-made disasters. It was developed as an outgrowth of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing, when it became apparent that responding agencies are often trained differently.
The program includes a Core Disaster Life Support Course® that gives hospital-based and frontline medical providers the essentials of natural and man-made disaster management. Basic and advanced courses offer progressively more hands-on training and knowledge. The overarching goal is to give all types of responders a common knowledge base and jargon and to eliminate ambiguity, said Dr. Richard Schwartz, chairman of the MCG Department of Emergency Medicine and Hospitalists Services, who had the original idea for the program.
The courses, first introduced in 1999, were developed by the Medical College of Georgia, University of Georgia, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the University of Texas at Houston’s School of Public Health. The nonprofit National Disaster Life Support Foundation was established in 2004 to oversee the program, and they began a partnership with the American Medical Association to widely disseminate the program in 2006.
Today, there are about 90 domestic training sites, and courses have been taught in 49 states and in more than 20 foreign countries. There are training sites in 11 countries, including places like Mexico, Japan, India and Saudi Arabia, and now China, the world’s most populous country.
“The courses are unique and valuable because they are standardized across all disciplines of first responders; they deal with all types of hazards, and they are competency based,” said Jack Horner, executive director of the NDLSF. “To date, more than 120,000 students have been trained, and a growing number of health professional schools have added the program to their curriculum. Disasters know no borders and they know no language barrier either.”