Background: Although training and education have long been accepted as integral to disaster preparedness, many currently taught practices are neither evidence-based nor standardized. The need for effective evidence-based disaster training of healthcare staff at all levels, including the development of standards and guidelines for training in the multi-disciplinary health response to major events, has been designated by the disaster response community as a high priority. We describe the application of systematic evidence-based consensus building methods to derive educational competencies and objectives in criteria-based preparedness and response relevant to all hospital healthcare workers. Methods: The conceptual development of cross-cutting competencies incorporated current evidence through a systematic consensus building process with the following steps: (1) review of peer-reviewed literature on relevant content areas and educational theory; (2) structured review of existing competencies, national level courses and published training objectives; (3) synthesis of new cross-cutting competencies; (4) expert panel review; (5) refinement of new competencies and; (6) development of testable terminal objectives for each competency using similar processes covering requisite knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Results: Seven cross-cutting competencies were developed: (1) Recognize a potential critical event and implement initial actions; (2) Apply the principles of critical event management; (3) Demonstrate critical event safety principles; (4) Understand the institutional emergency operations plan; (5) Demonstrate effective critical event communications; (6) Understand the incident command system and your role in it; (7) Demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill your role during a critical event. For each of the cross-cutting competencies, comprehensive terminal objectives are described. Conclusion: Cross-cutting competencies and objectives developed through a systematic evidence-based consensus building approach may serve as a foundation for future hospital healthcare worker training and education in disaster preparedness and response.
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