A. Peña-Fernández1, M.A. Peña2, M.D. Ollero3, C. Hurtado3, S. Fenoy3

1De Montfort University (UNITED KINGDOM)
2Universidad de Alcalá, Departamento de Ciencias Biomédicas (SPAIN)
3Universidad San Pablo CEU, Facultad de Farmacia (SPAIN)
An innovative teaching group at De Montfort University (DMU, UK) and at the University of Alcalá (Spain) has developed specific training to prepare human health students how to respond to biological incidents. The purpose of this training is to provide a basic understanding on environmental toxicology, recovery, public health and medical preparedness to protect humans and minimise the spread of biological hazards. We have followed previous experience gained when responding to the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in Makeni, Sierra Leone (West Africa). Previously, to create this training, a series of basic competences to respond to biological incidents were created by our group for undergraduate students following the European Commission competences specified for first responders (Peña-Fernández et al., 2016). A critical part of any intervention plan to respond to these incidents is to implement a quick response to protect the public and actions to minimise the occurrence of infections and recover the environment affected by the biological agent(s) since they can subsequently impact humans. A specific short training course/workshop (3 hours long) has been created in conjunction with a series of specific lectures on emerging pathogens, biological hazards and prevention, medical preparedness and public health. Students are provided with a biological incident scenario affecting different environments (open water and food production systems) and they need to tailor a basic recovery strategy following the novel methodology and guidelines to tailor a recovery response to biological incidents developed by Public Health England (PHE; Pottage et al., 2015). Our recovery training has been tested within different undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (BSc Biomedical and BMedSci Medical Science; MSc Advances in Biomedical Science) at DMU during the 2016/17 academic course; we have determined high levels of students’ satisfaction and engagement. Currently we are in the process of validating this training by delivering it in other European universities and/or different health care programmes. Thus, we have delivered a modified version of this recovery training/workshop within 3rd year pharmacy students (n=101) enrolled in the module Biological Analysis at the Universidad de San Pablo CEU (Spain) in April 2017. Pharmacy students gain an appropriate knowledge on infectious diseases, microbiology and parasitology during the first two years of study, so we decided to reduce the length of the workshop to 1.5 hours. A validated feedback-questionnaire was distributed that has collected the following initial impressions (33 students completed the questionnaire): 93.9% of students enjoyed the different exercises created (45.4% agreed; 48.5% strongly agreed); only 6.1% of them did not (6.1% disagreed; 0% strongly disagreed). 87.9% of these students reported that the novel PHE resources used aided their learning on environmental recovery and restoration. Finally, 93.9 % of students (42.4% agreed; 51.5% strongly agreed) indicated that they have gained knowledge to tailor a basic recovery plan in the aftermath of a biological incident; 6.1% disagreed. These results should be considered as preliminary and the training was shown to be successful to facilitate health care students in gaining basic skills to recover environments affected by future biological incidents and outbreaks of infection.