The National Disaster Life Support Foundation, Inc. (NDLSF) oversees the National Disaster Life Support (NDLS) courses, a series of educational programs to better prepare health care professionals and emergency response personnel for mass casualty events. The NDLS courses are comprehensive, all-hazards, competency-based, standardized, and multi-disciplinary. These courses assist health professionals respond to mass casualty events regardless the cause.

The NDLS courses were developed by four academic centers: Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University, University of Georgia, University of Texas Southwestern, and University of Texas – Houston, School of Public Health. The NDLSF provides administration and oversight of the NDLS courses, offered at more than one hundred NDLS training centers globally. The NDLSF is a non-profit, tax exempt, 501(c)3 organization located in Augusta, GA.

GetYouThinking, LLC is a Regional Training Centers that is accredited to conduct all three courses (CDLS®, BDLS®, and ADLS®) within their region, provided a suitable facility is available.

The NDLS courses are conducted through affiliated training centers. There are eighty domestic NDLS training centers and twelve global training centers in Japan, United Arab Emirates, Mexico, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia.

Disaster Training Classes

The National Disaster Life Support™ (NDLS™) courses are a series of education programs to better prepare health care professionals and emergency response personnel for mass casualty events. The NDLS courses stress a comprehensive, all-hazards approach to assist health professionals respond to disasters and other public health emergencies, and include the following:

The Core Disaster Life Support® (CDLS) course is a 3.5 hour competency-based, awareness-level course that introduces clinical and public health concepts and principles for the management of disasters and public health emergencies.  The course incorporates the “all-hazards” approach to personal, institutional, and community disaster management through the use of two unique mnemonics, the PRE-DISASTER Paradigm™ (which applies to event mitigation and preparedness) and the DISASTER Paradigm™ (which applies to event recognition, response, and recovery).

The overarching aim of the CDLS course is to provide participants from diverse professions, disciplines, and backgrounds with a common lexicon, vocabulary, and knowledge in disaster-related medicine and public health that can be reinforced and expanded in the BDLS® and ADLS® courses. The CDLS course is aimed at a broad range of audience categories, including medical first responders, health professionals, health service providers, public health workers, and health support personnel.

Upon completion of the CDLS course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the all-hazards approach to disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
  • Discuss essential components of federal, state, regional, and community disaster health systems, including the role of the public and private health sectors.
  • Describe the elements of the PRE-DISASTER Paradigm and their application to the management of disasters and public health emergencies.
  • Describe actions that can be taken to enhance personal preparedness and resilience for disasters and public health emergencies.
  • Identify legal and ethical issues that impact disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery, including the basic legal framework for public health.
  • Describe the elements of the DISASTER Paradigm and their application for the management of disasters and public health emergencies.

The Basic Disaster Life Support™ (BDLS®) course is a 7.5 hour competency-based, awareness-level course that introduces concepts and principles to prepare health professionals for the management of injuries and illnesses caused by disasters and public health emergencies. The course builds upon, applies, and reinforces information presented in the Core Disaster Life Support® (CDLS®) course. This includes application of core principles and concepts in emergency management and public health as introduced in the CDLS course through the PRE-DISASTER Paradigm™ and DISASTER Paradigm™. The primary focus of the BDLS course is incorporation of an “all-hazards” approach to mass casualty management and population-based care across a broad range of disasters. Measures to ensure and enhance health workforce readiness are emphasized throughout the course. This includes a consistent and scalable approach to workforce protection and casualty management, as well as, mass casualty triage and fatality management.

The BDLS course is designed to engage participants through interactive scenarios and group discussion. The overarching aim of the BDLS course is to teach a common lexicon, vocabulary, and knowledge base for the clinical and public health management of all ages and populations affected by disasters and public health emergencies, through a standardized curriculum that is practical and relevant for all health professionals. Knowledge gained in the course can then be reinforced and expanded through application in the Advanced Disaster Life Support™ (ADLS®) course. The BDLS course is aimed at a broad range of audience categories that share a common likelihood of providing clinical care and assistance to casualties during a disaster or public health emergency, including healthcare, public health and allied health professionals; emergency medical services personnel; and other medical first responders and receivers.

Upon completion of the BDLS course, the participant will be able to:

  • Describe an all-hazard, standardized, scalable casualty management approach for use in disasters and public health emergencies, including life-saving interventions and medical decision making in an altered care environment.
  • Describe information sharing, resource access, communication, and reporting methods useful for health professionals during disasters and public health emergencies.
  • Describe the purpose and importance of the incident management system for providing health and medical support services in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Describe field, facility, community, and regional surge capacity assets for the management and support of mass casualties in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Describe considerations and solutions to ensure continuity of and access to health-related information and services to meet the medical and mental health needs of all ages, populations, and communities affected by a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Describe public health interventions appropriate for all ages, populations, and communities affected by a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Identify the potential casualty population in a disaster or public health emergency, including persons with acute injuries or illnesses; those with pre-existing disease, injuries, or disabilities; those with age-related vulnerabilities and other functional and access needs; and their family/caregiver support network.
  • Describe the deployment readiness components for health professionals in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Describe an all-hazards standardized, scalable workforce protection approach for use in disasters and public health emergencies, including detection, safety, security, hazard assessment, support, and evacuation or sheltering in place.
  • Describe actions that facilitate mass casualty field triage utilizing a standardized step-wise approach and uniform triage categories.
  • Describe the concepts and principles of mass fatality management for health professionals in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Describe the clinical assessment and management of injuries, illnesses, and mental health conditions manifested by all ages and populations in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Describe moral, ethical, legal, and regulatory issues relevant to the health- related management of individuals of all ages, populations, and communities affected by a disaster or public health emergency.

The Advanced Disaster Life Support™ (ADLS®) course is an intense 15-hour course that allows participants to demonstrate competencies in mass casualty management. Core education elements include the ADLS manual and five interactive lectures (Disasters and Public Health Emergencies; Triage in Disasters and Public Health Emergencies; Health System Surge Capacity for Disasters and Public Health Emergencies; Community Health Emergency Operations and Response; and Legal and Ethical Issues in Disasters). Essential training components include population scenarios discussion; mass casualty triage tabletop and situational training exercises; surge tabletop scenario for a health care facility; personal protective equipment skills performance and decontamination video review; casualty management in small groups with simulated scenarios; and emergency operations center situational training exercise. ADLS requires learners to apply knowledge learned in the Core Disaster Life Support® (CDLS®) and Basic Disaster Life Support™ (BDLS®) courses.

Successful completion of the BDLS course is a prerequisite for attendance at the ADLS course. The ADLS course target audience includes physicians, nurses, physician assistants, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics, pharmacists, allied health professionals, and students in health professional schools.

Course objectives:

  • Explain the shift from individual- to population-based care in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Practice mass casualty triage in a simulated disaster scenario.
  • Choose strategies to establish organizational and community surge capacity in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Differentiate roles performed in an emergency operations center or incident command center established in response to a simulated mass casualty event
  • Discuss legal, regulatory, and ethical principles and practices to enable health professionals to provide crisis standards of care in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Select personal protective equipment and decontamination measures appropriate for personnel and public health protection in a disaster or public health emergency.
  • Apply clinical skills for the management of mass casualties in simulated all-hazards scenarios.

Recertification

Certification in any of the NDLS family of courses is good for three years from the date of certification.  The current NDLS courses are at revision 3.x and are updated from time-to-time to reflect changes in disaster preparedness and response. The National Disaster Life Support Foundation is currently working on new policies and procedures related to the recertification of students in CDLS®, BDLS® and ADLSTM.  Recognizing that the development of policies and procedures for recertification can be a long process the Foundation’s Board of Directors has adopted the following interim procedure for students wishing to recertify.