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Don’t Get Caught Off-Guard: Prepare Now for Disasters :

September 15, 2017

Editor's note: The 2017 AAP National Conference & Exhibition will take place from Sept. 16-19 in Chicago.

Pediatricians are pros at handling medical emergencies. But when it comes to responding to a full-fledged disaster, many will find themselves ill-equipped.

“We never know when a disaster may strike, and the time to prepare is now before it is too late,” said Shana Godfred-Cato, DO, FAAP, liaison to the AAP Disaster Preparedness Advisory Council (DPAC) from the Section on Early Career Physicians. “The more we prepare now, the easier response is in the future.”

Dr. Godfred-Cato will help pediatricians get up to speed during a session titled “Disaster Preparedness 101” from 7:30-8:15 am Sunday (F2008) in McCormick Place West, W178 B and from 9:30-10:15 am Monday (F3068) in McCormick Place West, W183 C.

During the session, she will address a range of disasters, including natural, chemical, biological, nuclear, explosive and pandemics. She also will review disaster response in the clinic vs. hospital setting and highlight AAP resources.

Learning about the types of disasters and response is beneficial for all physicians no matter their specialty, practice size or years of experience, she said.

“Encouraging those who might be in a position to care for children in a disaster to think about preparedness will not only improve readiness for disasters but will also improve their response to minor emergencies that can impact their practice on a daily basis,” she said.

Those minor emergencies include floods, fires, power outages, bad weather that is not considered a natural disaster, high patient rate during flu season and situations that may require building evacuation.

As a member of the Texas Army National Guard, Dr. Godfred-Cato has trained for disaster response. She also attends meetings of DPAC, which includes pediatric experts who work with federal agencies and respond to disasters at the national and international levels.

Children respond differently to disasters due to their body composition and dependence for care, and these differences need to be considered during disaster planning and response, said Dr. Godfred-Cato, a pediatrician at Austin Regional Clinic.

“There is a lot that individual members can do to make sure communities are prepared to care for children in various emergencies and disasters,” she said.

Follow Dr. Godfred-Cato on Twitter @shanag30.

For more coverage of the AAP National Conference & Exhibition visit and follow AAPNews on Twitter and Facebook.

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