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Although increasing evidence suggests that children are at particular risk from disasters and evidence-based practices have been developed to triage and treat them effectively, no strategy or concept of operations linking best practices for disaster response is currently in place. To our knowledge, this report describes the first effort to address this critical gap and outlines a triage-driven children's disaster mental health incident response strategy for seamless preparedness, response, and recovery elements that can be used now. The national children's disaster mental health concept of operations (NCDMH CONOPS) details the essential elements needed for an interoperable, coordinated response for the mental health needs of children by local communities, counties, regions, and states to better meet the needs of children affected by disasters and terrorism incidents. This CONOPS for children proposes the use of an evidence-based, rapid triage system to provide a common data metric to incident response and recovery action and to rationally align limited resources to those at greater need in a population-based approach.

(C) 2012 American Medical Association