Expanding understanding of response roles: An examination of immediate and first responders in the United States

Curtis Harris, Kelli McCarthy, E. Liang Liu, Kelly Klein, Raymond Swienton, Parker Prins, Tawny Waltz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


2017 was a record year for disasters and disaster response in the U.S. Redefining and differentiating key response roles like “immediate responders” and “first responders” is critical. Traditional first responders are not and cannot remain the only cadre of expected lifesavers following a mass casualty event. The authors argue that the U.S. needs to expand its understanding of response roles to include that of the immediate responders, or those individuals who find themselves at the incident scene and are able to assist others. Through universal training and education of the citizenry, the U.S. has the opportunity increase overall disaster resiliency and community outcomes following large-scale disasters. Such education could easily be incorporated into high school curriculums or other required educational experiences in order to provide all persons with the knowledge, skills, and basic abilities needed to save lives immediately following a disaster.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number534
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2018



  • Community resilience
  • Disaster response
  • Education
  • First responder
  • Immediate responder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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