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Recent changes in governmental policy toward disaster medicine and hospital incident command foreshadow a significant change in the role that physicians will play in disaster preparedness and response. The distinct discipline of Disaster Medicine has received authoritative recognition and promotion in the recent Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21, and recently established guidelines for incident command within hospitals have included a new position designated as “Medical/Technical Specialist(s)” that will assist the Incident Commander in disaster-related decision-making. This is a multidisciplinary position, and its functions can be filled by one or more individuals. As physician training and competency in Disaster Medicine increases, it should be anticipated that the multiple functions of this position will increasingly be performed by physicians who are expert in Disaster Medicine. As physician training and certification in Disaster Medicine develops, it should be expected that physicians will increasingly become responsible for hospital disaster response.


This article was originally published in the Journal of Homeland Security.