Background Emergency response and preparedness is a global priority, particularly in an urbanizing world. Urban emergency response systems require complex coordination between many stakeholders. However, there are no validated tools that evaluate a city’s overall emergency response capacity and preparedness for disasters. To inform the development of such a tool, we conducted a literature review on the components, scoring systems, and the reliability of evaluation methods to measure urban emergency response and preparedness.
Methods A systematic search of PubMed, Google Scholar and EMBASE identified studies, guidelines, measures, and instruments focused on evaluating emergency response and preparedness at the hospital, city, and national levels between 1983 to 2017. Studies focusing on computer simulations, and those without measurement or scoring systems were excluded.
Results Out of 473 nonduplicate citations, 20 studies were included after full-text review describing 1) quantitative scoring methodologies, 2) key components of a response/preparedness plan, and 3) the development of assessment tools. Quantitative assessments of emergency preparedness or response used index scores, summary scores, performance scales, and observational checklists. Key readiness components included staff training, security and safety, leadership, and incident command structure; whereas staff knowledge, vulnerability, and functional recovery were critical for emergency response planning.
Conclusion A comprehensive emergency response and preparedness tool can be developed from clearly defined components, using quantitative methods such as indices or checklists. Such a tool could help in the assessment of a city’s emergency preparedness and response capacity in a reproducible and objective manner, but will require validation in an urban environment.
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