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Children in a disaster: health protection and intervention
  1. Conor Reid1 and
  2. C Hillman2
  1. 1 HMS Trent, BFPO 411, UK
  2. 2 Emergency Department, University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Southampton, UK
  1. Correspondence to Surg Lt Conor Reid, HMS Trent, BFPO 411, UK; conor.reid92{at}


Children are disproportionately affected by disasters. They have greater physiological, psychological and sociological vulnerabilities, often exacerbated by the fact that their unique needs can be overlooked during relief efforts. This article provides an overview of disasters, including how they are categorised, and the factors that need to be considered by military and civilian healthcare teams that respond to them. Information is drawn from a variety of previous disasters, with the effects considered across a range of different populations and communities. The lessons learnt from previous disasters need to inform the ongoing discussions around how to best train and supply both individual healthcare workers and the wider teams that will be expected to respond to future disasters. The importance of role-specific training incorporating caring for children, consideration of paediatric casualties during planning exercises and teaching scenarios, and the requirement for paediatric equipment and medications cannot be overemphasised. While provision of paediatric care may not be the primary role of an individual healthcare worker or their broader team, it still remains their ethical and often legal duty to plan for and deliver care for children when responding to a disaster. This is a paper commissioned as part of the Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operations special issue of BMJ Military Health.

  • paediatric A&E and ambulatory care
  • education & training (see medical education & training)
  • international health services
  • organisation of health services
  • protocols & guidelines

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  • Contributors CR drafted paper. CH provided expert advice and corrections for the final version.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.