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New Training Prepares Disaster Response Teams, Healthcare Providers to Recognize and Manage Sepsis Patients in Disaster Situations

October 21, 2021

Sepsis Alliance and BARDA, in collaboration with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announce Disaster Medicine: Sepsis, a free, virtual training for emergency medical staff and disaster management personnel on identifying and managing sepsis in disaster settings.

San Diego, CA – Sepsis Alliance and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, today announced a free, virtual training module, Disaster Medicine: Sepsis, to aid in the assessment, screening, stabilization and evacuation of sepsis patients in disaster situations such as earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, or floods.

The module was developed in response to traditional disaster medicine trainings, which largely lack education on the recognition and management of sepsis in disaster settings.

Housed at the Sepsis Alliance Institute, the training aims to equip emergency and disaster medical personnel—including first responders, on-site clinical providers, federal and state government staff, emergency planners, facility managers, and occupational health and safety personnel—with the tools necessary to understand the fundamentals of sepsis, recognize it in the field, and rapidly care for those exhibiting signs and symptoms.

Sepsis is the body’s overwhelming and dysregulated response to infection. Without rapid diagnosis and treatment, sepsis can cause tissue damage, organ failure, and death—every year, it affects 1.7 million people and takes 270,000 lives in the U.S. Sepsis remains a top cost in U.S. hospitalizations and a top cause of death in U.S. hospitals. In a disaster, individuals may be at increased risk for infection and, in turn, for sepsis. Given the low-resource clinical settings often established in response to disasters, without access to resources like laboratory testing, healthcare providers may have greater-than-usual challenges in recognizing sepsis and responding to it quickly.

Sepsis Alliance established the Sepsis Alliance Institute in 2019 to offer free trainings to healthcare professionals on a wide range of sepsis-related topics across the continuum of care. The organizations strives to enhance the skills, strategies, and performance of members of the healthcare community in diagnosing and treating sepsis.

Since the Sepsis Alliance Institute’s inception, it has awarded nearly 34,000 free continuing education credits to healthcare providers accessing its library of more than 70 webinars and modules.

“Accurate and comprehensive sepsis education for healthcare providers is one of our best tools in the fight against sepsis,” said Sepsis Alliance President and CEO Tom Heymann. “The Disaster Medicine: Sepsis module was created for disaster personnel facing tremendous clinical challenges in the field and offers them that comprehensive sepsis education directly.”

Disaster Medicine: Sepsis covers many sepsis-related considerations for disaster personnel, including: the foundational principles underlying all sepsis care; the recognition and rapid stabilization of septic patients in the field; the processes involved in identifying, assessing, and prioritizing patients at highest risk of developing sepsis; and the challenges associated with coordinating evacuation of patients from the disaster site.

The module emphasizes those “elements of patient management you might not normally consider under standard practice conditions,” as Dr. Richard Catherina, Senior Medical Officer for the National Disaster Medical System and one of the module’s instructors, summarizes in his opening remarks for the training. “For personnel in the field, the key to effective clinical management is recognizing how disasters will affect the entire spectrum of patient care—from initial assessment to ultimate disposition.”

Disaster Medicine: Sepsis has been funded with federal contract funds from the Department of Health and Human Services; Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe).

“In order to save lives and protect Americans, we need to be prepared for any health security threat, including sepsis.  Sepsis can arise from almost any infection and disasters create environments that put individuals at risk for infections, and therefore sepsis,” said Kimberly Sciarretta, BARDA Solving Sepsis Program Manager. “We are excited to launch this training, presented by U.S. government medical doctors with expertise and experience from ICUs and the field, to aid all medical responders in improving patient outcomes and expanding every community’s preparedness posture.”

Healthcare professionals may receive free AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ or nursing continuing education contact hours upon successfully completing the training. To find this, and other modules for healthcare providers, visit Sepsis Alliance is an accredited provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (Provider Number CEP17068). In support of improving patient care, this activity has been planned and implemented by Medical Education Resources (MER) and Sepsis Alliance. MER is jointly accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), and the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), to provide continuing education for the healthcare team.

About Sepsis Alliance

Sepsis Alliance, the first and leading sepsis organization in the U.S., seeks to save lives and reduce suffering by improving sepsis awareness and care. More than 1.7 million people are diagnosed with sepsis each year in the U.S. with more than 270,000 dying and over 50% of survivors experiencing post-sepsis syndrome and other lingering effects, including amputations. At Sepsis Alliance’s founding in 2003, only 19% of U.S. adults were aware of the term “sepsis.” After over ten years of educational efforts for the general public and healthcare providers through Sepsis.orgSepsis Alliance Clinical CommunitySepsis Alliance Institute, and Sepsis Alliance Voices, awareness is at an all-time high of 71% with over 20,000 healthcare providers across the country having attended sepsis webinars and courses to elevate their practice and over 28 Sepsis Awareness Month state proclamations. Sepsis Alliance is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and a GuideStar Platinum Rated charity. For more information, please visit and connect with Sepsis Alliance on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn at @SepsisAlliance.