Haiti Pediatric Action Blog
Deploying the Pediatric Emergency Decision Support System (PEDSS)


The Pediatric Emergency Decision Support System (PEDSS) is a sophisticated analytical tool to generate accurate estimates of injured children in a disaster, and to assist in emphasizing children's special needs. We are adapting the PEDSS earthquake module to Haiti and its disaster profile, thus generating authoritative best-practices-based recommendations on medical supplies, equipment, pharmaceuticals, and personnel requirements for childrens' needs in the disaster.

The Pediatric Emergency Decision Support System (PEDSS) was developed in collaboration with Childrens Hospital Los Angeles' Pediatric Disaster Resource and Training Center, for which Dr. Jeffrey Upperman is the Director and Dr. Robert Neches the Informatics Thrust Leader from USC Information Sciences Institute.

Approximately 35% of Haiti's population is under 15. It's been estimated that as many as a million children were orphaned or abandoned -- even before the disaster hit. Thus, the earthquake is a disaster of the highest magnitude, and children represent a major class of victims.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Take-aways: Answers to Two Good Questions from CNN

I was just interviewed for a CNN report about Haiti in which I was asked two very good questions about our work. Here are the answers I gave:

Q: What is the single take-away that you'd like the public to know?

The Haiti earthquake is above all a pediatric disaster. Because of the nature of the population, children will constitute a much, much higher percentage of the injured than other countries might expect. We very much hope that the special and different needs which caring for children entails will be recognized and factored into the response.

Q: What would you like the charitable organizations helping into Haiti to know?

I think our Pediatric Disaster Resource and Training Center has four key lessons to offer, which include what we've done with PEDSS, but go beyond it. They are:

1. It's important to understand the specific needs of the impacted population in the area, as we're trying to do
with PEDSS for children.

2. Those have "medical logistics" implications which can be quite different from what one might expect (for example, that earthquakes exacerbate respiratory problems) -- and that in turn dramatically impact what supplies are needed to do the most good.

3. That treatment practices need to adapt to conditions in ways very different from how you would treat patients at home, because limitations on both personnel and supply resources signficantly affect how to do the most good with the resources available.

4. Cooperation and information sharing are crucial. PEDSS is only a part of the battle toward doing things right. Today, everyone is going in with what they have, and no one else knows about it. Even if our requirements estimates are perfect, they still have to be put together with what we all have and what we still need. We still need ways to help everyone share what we have and go get the rest without omission or duplication. Otherwise, help will still be delayed and wasted.

What I failed to mention was a fifth lesson that occurred to me afterwards:

It's nice to think about what's needed, but we also need to help people with figuring out how to make the best use of what they have. Rarely will there ever be all that's needed.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments may be delayed due to moderation process.