Mass disasters represent a significant challenge for dental personnel who are frequently called upon to provide identifications. Recently-published materials have highlighted the need to prepare such groups for the disaster challenge and to report inadequacies in existing preparation methods with an emphasis on team integration, organization, and the psychological and emotional effects of such work. Many studies have retrospectively reported errors that have been made in disaster situations, but few have addressed the issues proactively. In an effort to provide a prepared team of dental members, a mock disaster exercise (Operation: DENT-ID) is conducted annually in Vancouver, Canada. The present study analyzes the effectiveness of this exercise in relation to team organization, assessment of preparedness, and the emotional and psychological issues. An index of preparedness is developed and described. This index, in the form of a questionnaire, can be given to participants in mock disasters to assess the effectiveness of such exercises. While the focus of this paper is on the assessment of dental personnel, the indices and methods used can be applied to any group working within the disaster team. Results indicate that the increase in preparedness as a result of the exercise was highly significant.
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