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Commanding an ICS Post During Infectious Disease

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel are routinely called to treat and transport patients with infectious disease. This may include a patient with pulmonary tuberculosis or the flu. It also includes victims of a bioterrorist attack. In a biological WMD release, EMS personnel may respond to the initial 9-1-1 call(s) for a patient with a fever and rash illness long before the cause of the illness is known.

In the event of an announced release of anthrax or smallpox into a building ventilation system, exposed people may take anywhere from a couple of days (anthrax) to 7-17 days (smallpox) to become ill. These people may not need transport to a medical facility, but will need to be identified for public health information purposes so they can receive antibiotics or vaccine at a later time.

EMS may be the primary health care provider at these scenes initially and must assure that an accurate accounting of all patient contacts is made and then provide such to public health officials.
1.In such cases should the ICS be commanded by a public health official/EMS Chief/MD rather than the police and fire units?
2.To what extent should non-medical personnel/managers make medical decisions during a bioterrorist incident?

Solution Preview

1.In such cases should the ICS be commanded by a public health official/EMS Chief/MD rather than the police and fire units?

OSHA acknowledges the issues between protecting emergency medical service (EMS) personnel, providing expedient medical treatment, and the need to coordinate efforts on a wider level. In cases such as the examples mentioned, OSHA recommends that first responders "could temporarily be the decision-maker at the site until a more qualified incident commander arrives" (OSHA, 2009, p.20). It is crucial that proper training and protective equipment is provided to EMS personnel but their position in these scenarios is to use professional judgment until a public health official/EMS Chief/MD can step in and handle the issue more comprehensively. It is important to note that ...

Solution Summary

This solution discusses who should be in charge of commanding an ICS post during a bioterrorism attack. It also discusses how much non-medical personnel should be involved in making medical decisions during a bioterrorist event. Includes APA formatted references. 400+ words.

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