The Evolving Role of Dental Responders on Interprofessional Emergency Response Teams

Disaster and pandemic response events require an interprofessional team of health care responders to organize and work together in high-pressure, time-critical situations. Civilian oral health care professionals have traditionally been limited to forensic identification of human remains. However, after the bombing of the Twin Towers in New York, federal agencies realized that dentists can play significant roles in disaster and immunization response, especially on interprofessional responder teams. Several states have begun to incorporate dentists into the first responder community. This article discusses the roles of dental responders and highlights legislative advancements and advocacy efforts supporting the dental responder.

Key points

  • Oral health care professionals can serve as responders and should be actively involved in all stages of disaster and pandemic planning within their local communities.

  • Through emerging state and federal laws, dental responders can legally provide triage, immunization/vaccination, and infrastructure support during declared pandemics and disasters.

  • Dentists can serve a critical role as triage coordinators and “medic” members of tactical emergency medical support and forensic investigative teams.

  • The dental profession needs to continue to advocate for dentists and hygienists to be included as key members of the response team.

  • Oral health care providers must be paramount in educating their medical colleagues on the importance of dental skills in catastrophic events and pandemic response.

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Oct 25, 2016 | Posted by in General Dentistry | Comments Off on The Evolving Role of Dental Responders on Interprofessional Emergency Response Teams
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