Military and civilian first responders must be able to recognize and effectively manage mass disaster casualties. Clinical management of injuries resulting from nerve agents provides different challenges for first responders than those of conventional weapons. We evaluated the impact of a mixed-methods training program on competency acquisition in cholinergic crisis clinical management using multimedia with either live animal or patient actor examples, and hands-on practice using SimMan3G mannequin simulators. A purposively selected sample of 204 civilian and military first responders who had not previously completed nerve agent training were assessed pre- and post-training for knowledge, performance, self-efficacy, and affective state. We conducted analysis of variance with repeated measures; statistical significance p < 0.05. Both groups had significant performance improvement across all assessment dimensions: knowledge > 20%, performance > 50%, self-efficacy > 34%, and affective state > 15%. There were no significant differences between the live animal and patient actor groups. These findings could aid in the specification of training for first-responder personnel in military and civilian service. Although less comprehensive than U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense courses, the training outcomes associated with this easily distributed program demonstrate its value in increasing the competency of first responders in recognizing and managing a mass casualty cholinergic event.
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