The World Trade Center clean-up focused national attention on the inadequate training for """"""""skilled support personnel"""""""", OSHA's term for workers in trades (including construction, demolition and transportation) deployed to support disaster response (Lippy and Murray, 2003). While the relevant OSHA standard (29CFR 1910.120) provides detailed training for emergency responders, the requirements for training skilled support personnel are less stringent, focusing only on awareness training through an initial on-site briefing. The negative health consequences of inadequate preparation have been profound. For example, one year after the World Trade Center attack, over half of 2500 workers screened were still suffering respiratory symptoms. This project focuses on biological hazards as the consequences of inadequate protection and potentially catastrophic to the skilled support worker as well as the public at large. Since emergency response protocols are not routinely practiced by skilled support personnel, one-shot trainings-even with periodic refreshers-- are unlikely to be remembered at the time personnel are mobilized to support a WMD event. Accordingly, this project will develop an online multi-media, interactive training application available to skilled support personnel for pre-incident training as well as a just-in-time reference. This supplement to basic training in disaster response will focus on health and safety practices relevant to disease transmitted by aerosolized agents, blood or bodily fluids, person-to-person contact, or insect and animal vectors. Training will cover routes of exposure and applicable diseases, engineering and work practice controls, personal protective equipment and barriers, decontamination and disposal procedures, and post-exposure protocols. Case studies will enable trainees to apply their knowledge by developing exposure control plans in response to simulated events involving biological hazards. Following the core curriculum, participants will have two opportunities to connect with peers and instructors: an asynchronous online discussion forum linked to the product and virtual office hours or webcasts geared to provide real-time opportunities for discussion and questions. Evaluation will involve a series of pre- and post- course written evaluations and telephone interviews with each participant to measure satisfaction with the course and delivery mechanisms as well as knowledge gains and confidence about applying knowledge in practice. Participants who receive online training only will be compared to those who receive both online and asynchronous and real time follow-up activities. The application is rated at a priority score level of 47.

Public Health Relevance

. Numerous sources in the intelligence community have suggested that the threat of attack on the U.S. using biological weapons is current, real, and likely to be seen somewhere in the world by 2013 (Franco and Bouri, 2010). Concurring with this assessment, the World at Risk report issued by the Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism (2008) concluded that while nuclear terrorism has been emphasized in Federal prevention efforts, bioterrorism is the more likely threat. Preparing skilled support workers to respond to this threat is an urgent public health challenge that will be addressed in this project by developing and testing a case-based online curriculum with both asynchronous and real time follow-up activities designed to prepare skilled support personnel to work safely in biologically contaminated environments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase I (R43)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-JAB-J (DJ))
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Outwater, Theodore W
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Gryphon Scientific, LLC
United States
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