Education and training of emergency medical teams: Recommendations for a global operational learning framework

Nieves Amat Camacho, Amy Hughes, Frederick M. Burkle, Pier Luigi Ingrassia, Luca Ragazzoni, Anthony Redmond, Ian Norton, Johan von Schreeb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


An increasing number of international emergency medical teams are deployed to assist disaster-affected populations worldwide. Since Haiti earthquake those teams have been criticised for ill adapted care, lack of preparedness in addition to not coordinating with the affected country healthcare system. The Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs) initiative, as part of the Word Health Organization’s Global Health Emergency Workforce program, aims to address these shortcomings by improved EMT coordination, and mechanisms to ensure quality and accountability of national and international EMTs. An essential component to reach this goal is appropriate education and training. Multiple disaster education and training programs are available. However, most are centred on individuals’ professional development rather than on the EMTs operational performance. Moreover, no common overarching or standardised training frameworks exist. In this report, an expert panel review and discuss the current approaches to disaster education and training and propose a three-step operational learning framework that could be used for EMTs globally. The proposed framework includes the following steps: 1) ensure professional competence and license to practice, 2) support adaptation of technical and non-technical professional capacities into the low-resource and emergency context and 3) prepare for an effective team performance in the field. A combination of training methodologies is also recommended, including individual theory based education, immersive simulations and team training. Agreed curriculum and open access training materials for EMTs need to be further developed, ideally through collaborative efforts between WHO, operational EMT organizations, universities, professional bodies and training agencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPLoS Currents
Issue numberDisasters
StatePublished - Oct 21 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Disasters
  • Education
  • Emergencies
  • Global health
  • Learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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