Document Type

Capstone Experience

Graduation Date


Degree Name

Master of Public Health

First Committee Member

Sharon Medcalf, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Keith Hansen, MBA

Third Committee Member

Lisa Hass-Peters, MA, RN, NDHP-C


Background: The National Disaster Medical System has little experience with sustained mission operations under anything other than temperate environmental conditions. Extreme weather events increase the complexity of disaster response by presenting significant logistic, operational, and safety challenges. Identifying gaps and vulnerabilities in response capabilities can promote improved Disaster Medical Assistance Team preparedness.

Methods: This discussion based exercise utilized a scenario involving a 7.0 magnitude earthquake along the Wasatch Fault in winter. This exercise was conducted with members of the Wisconsin-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team. Team members provided oral and written feedback in response to exercise objectives and prompts. This feedback was supplemented with input from the Operations Section Chief and Logistics Section Chief at the organizational level.

Results: Respondents identified a high level of confidence in their ability to respond to a disaster of this magnitude under winter conditions. Gaps and vulnerabilities in preparedness were identified in equipment, supply chain, responder readiness, and resources.

Conclusions: The discussion based exercise provided a direct examination of current perceived response capabilities. The data gathered provides a compelling justification for the additional assessment of NDMS preparedness, both internally and independently. By identifying gaps and vulnerabilities in response capabilities, the exercise identifies areas for improvement in training, equipment, and supplies. Additionally, the project promotes more rigorous benchmarks that, at present, are ill-defined.

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