The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) added two new tools to its Web site to help improve protection and care of children during public health emergencies. The two installments of recommended protocols (one for pediatric hospitals, the other for schools) come as a response to the “inadequate development of pediatric protocols that could be implemented by the local, State, and Federal agencies charged with preparation and consequence management,” writes the AHRQ.

Pediatric Hospital Surge Capacity in Public Health Emergencies” consists of guidelines to assist pediatric hospitals in converting from standard operating capacity to surge capacity and help community hospital emergency departments provide care for large numbers of critically ill children. The tool addresses communications, staff responsibilities, triaging, stress management, and security concerns when handling large numbers of children with either communicable respiratory diseases or communicable foodborne or waterborne illnesses.

The second resource added by the AHRQ, “School-Based Emergency Preparedness: A National Analysis and Recommended Protocol,” is a national model for school-based emergency response planning. It provides guidance on the recommended steps for both creating and implementing a school-based emergency response plan. Steps outlined include performing needs assessments, conducting site surveys, developing training modules for school staff, and informing parents of the plan, as well as steps relating to building security and safety, preparation for large-scale emergencies, sheltering-in-place and lockdown, evacuation, relocation, and communications.

The guide includes a model school-based emergency response plan developed by the Brookline, Mass, school district in cooperation with the Center for Biopreparedness, the division of Harvard Medical School that prepared both sets of guidelines under contract to AHRQ.

Both sets of guidelines are available online, and free printed copies of the school guidelines are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse at [email protected]