ICN launches Core Competencies for Nurses involved in Emergency Medical Teams

13 October 2022


On International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, the International Council of Nurses (ICN) has launched its new Core Competencies in Disaster Nursing: Competencies for Nurses involved in Emergency Medical Teams.

Supplementing the ICN Core Competencies in Disaster Nursing, Version 2.0, published in November 2019, these new Level III competencies align with and build on the WHO Classification and Minimum Standards for Emergency Medical Teams by articulating a minimum standard of competencies required by nurses who are deployed as part of an established team to respond to disasters.

Over the last decade, there have been numerous disasters and major emergencies that have profoundly impacted the lives of millions of people worldwide. Nurses are working on the frontlines of these disasters – whether manmade or natural – and ICN works to support these nurses via advocacy, such as our #NursesforPeace campaign, by identifying the needs of nurse in crisis areas, via its Humanitarian Fund, or by producing much needed resources such as these core competencies.

Nurses are often part of national and international emergency medical teams (EMTs) deployed to assist disaster affected populations. EMTs are teams of healthcare professionals composed most frequently of doctors, nurses, psychologists and others to provide direct clinical care to people affected by disasters and conflicts and to support local health systems. In agreement with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Health Emergency Health Workforce programme, any health professional coming from another country to practice health care in a disaster setting must be part of a team that is qualified, trained, equipped, resourced, and meets minimum acceptable standards to practice.

ICN President, Dr Pamela Cipriano said:

“According to the World Meteorological Organizationi, disasters have increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years. And when disasters strike, nurses play vital roles as first responders, triage officers, care providers, coordinators of care and services, providers of information and education, and counsellors.

‘These new nursing core competencies for nurses involved in EMTs help to clarify the role of advanced practice nurses specializing in disasters, and ensure the highest level of care in the midst of disaster response.”

Dedicated to the memory of Professor Kristine Gebbie, who co-authored the Competencies along with ICN Associate Director of Nursing and Health Policy, David Stewart, and Professor Alison Hutton, Deputy Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Newcastle, Australia, the Core Competencies in Disaster Nursing Level III are organised into eight domains: preparation and planning; communication; incident management systems; safety and security; assessment; intervention; recovery; and law and ethics. ICN believes there is a strong base for the adoption of these competencies by governments, EMT organisations, regulatory authorities and educators.

Download the Press Release here