Our Latest News and Events

May 3, 2016

-- Nationwide Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies on the Rise --

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently released the results of its 2016 National Health Security Index which shows the United States scoring 6.7 on a 10-point scale for preparedness. This is an improvement of 3.6 percent since the index began three years ago.

Scouts learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts during a FEMA event.

The index used over 100 different measures ranging from flu vaccination rates to hazard planning for public schools and the presence of food inspection programs to compile a composite score which provides a comprehensive snapshot of the nation’s health security preparedness. The index also shows that while positive strides have been made, performance on some measures in specific states can still be improved.

"In order to keep Americans safe, we need to know how well equipped every state in the nation is to prevent and manage widespread health emergencies," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funds and directs the Index. "Every sector needs a yardstick to clearly show where progress is being made and where improvement can occur. America’s health security is no exception."

NCDMPH recognizes the importance of tracking strides in emergency preparedness and applauds both the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the nation for its continued commitment to helping ensure the safety of our country.

Check YOUR state.

April 4, 2016

-- Disaster Health Education Symposium Registration Now Open --

NCDMPH is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the Center’s Disaster Health Education Symposium: Innovations for Tomorrow to be held September 8, 2016 in Bethesda, MD.

The Symposium’s general session will include presentations by David Marcozzi, MD, MHS-CL, FACEP, Associate Professor and Director of Population Health, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland, School of Medicine, and by Kobi Peleg, PhD, MPH, Director, National Center for Trauma and Emergency Medicine Research, The Gertner Institute for Health Policy and Epidemiology, Head, Disaster Medicine Department and The Executive Master Programs for Emergency and Disaster Management, School of Public Health, Tel-Aviv University.

Sponsored by the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, the no-cost symposium will be hosted by Professor and School Dean Arthur L. Kellermann, MD, MPH.

The day’s breakout session topics are scheduled to include Innovations in Practice, Disaster Health Education and Training that Saves Lives, Innovations in Teaching Our Students, and Emerging Infectious Diseases. The Symposium will also feature a poster abstracts display.
To submit a poster abstract, go to: http://www.conferenceabstracts.com/DHES2016.htm.

To register for the Symposium, go to: https://hjf.cvent.com/DHES2016

March 23, 2016

--Emergency Preparedness and Children with Special Healthcare Needs --

Aiding children with special healthcare needs during a disaster requires tremendous planning and procedures development. Rita V. Burke, PhD, MPH will present a webinar on this critical topic on March 31 at 1 PM, EDT. Dr. Burke is Assistant Professor of Research Surgery and Preventive Medicine Pediatric Surgery, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“Update on Children with Special Healthcare Needs and Disaster Preparedness” will focus on what it takes to ensure youngsters with special healthcare needs receive continuity of care in the event of a disaster. Dr. Burke will describe the various considerations required in such an event including how to provide specialized equipment such as oxygen and special food; appropriate medication; and maintaining a back-up list of medical providers for each child affected.

NCDMPH invites you to join the webinar at http://ncdmph.adobeconnect.com/r4u3yaprgt5/. Call in number: 1-888-537-7715; Participant Code: 39933371. No pre-registration is required.

March 15, 2016

--Louisiana Flooding Declared Major Disaster --

President Barack Obama signed an order on March 13 declaring the flooding in Louisiana a major disaster. The president's declaration triggers federal aid for flood victims. To date, at least four deaths related to the flooding have been reported by the state and almost 5,000 homes have been damaged.

The Louisiana National Guard (LANG) has rescued more than 3,310 citizens, and 316 pets. The LANG has distributed more than 12,000 bottles of water, issued more than 582,000 sand bags with eight sandbag-filling machines.

Recovering from any disaster requires coordination of effort and a long-term strategy. To learn more about disaster recovery, access NCDMPH’s newest training program, Public Health System Training in Disaster Recovery (PH STriDR), designed for local public health agency workers, which focuses on individual and organizational contributions to aiding those affected by disaster.

March 7, 2016

-- Training Program for Public Health Agency Workers Focuses on Disaster Recovery --

NCDMPH is pleased to present its newest training program, Public Health System Training in Disaster Recovery (PH STriDR) designed for local public health agency workers, which focuses on individual and organizational contributions to disaster recovery.

Through four 90-minute, interactive, face-to-face sessions, this training program introduces: the concept of community disaster recovery; the disaster recovery roles of the local public health agency and the individuals who work within it; and potential personal/family and workplace considerations in the recovery phase. It also provides an opportunity for learners to create a vision of successful disaster recovery in their agency and community.

PH STriDR also features a 4-1/2 minute video which examines how the increase in disaster frequency and severity inspired the development of the program, and the key role local public health agencies play before, during and after a disaster. The program also includes materials for trainers and materials for learners.

The PH STriDR Trainer Materials include: a trainer guide, four PowerPoint presentations with Trainer Notes (one for each session); four Learner worksheets (one for each session); a Master Copy of Session 1: Disaster Recovery Activities Worksheet; and a link to the informational handout for Self Care (Tips for a Survivor of a Disaster or Traumatic Event).

The PH STriDR Learner Materials include: four PowerPoint presentations (one for each session), four Learner worksheets (one for each session), a link to the informational handout for Self Care (Tips for a Survivor of a Disaster or Traumatic Event) and online links to additional resources.

February 25, 2016

-- Wireless System Aids Emergency Responders in HAZMAT Incidents --

The recent well failure at Southern California Gas Co.'s huge Aliso Canyon storage facility reminds everyone in the disaster medicine and public health field of the importance of having timely and accurate information about hazardous materials and how to deal with them.

The National Library of Medicine’s WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) is a system designed to assist emergency responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression guidance.

WISER’s features include:

  • Rapid access to the most important information about a hazardous substance
  • Intuitive, simple, logical user interface developed by working with experienced first responders
  • Comprehensive decision support, including assistance in identification of an unknown chemical or chemical syndrome and guidance on the immediate actions necessary to save lives and protect the environment

WISER operates in a stand-alone mode on Microsoft® Windows® PCs, Apple iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), Google Android devices, and BlackBerry devices (internet connectivity required). WISER is also available in PC and mobile device based Internet browsers (WebWISER).

February 9, 2016

-- NCDMPH Unveils New Access and Functional Needs Video Series --

NCDMPH has launched a new video series spotlighting how health professionals and communities with access and functional needs are working together on disaster preparedness.

The first of these videos is “It’s Empowering the Community.” It features Glenda Ford-Lee, MHR, Statewide At-Risk Populations Coordinator at the Emergency Preparedness and Response Service of the Oklahoma State Department of Health; and Vicky Golightly of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. Ford-Lee and Golightly discuss how they have worked together to promote emergency preparedness to persons with access and functional needs, specifically persons who are blind or have low vision.

“Strong and meaningful partnerships between health professionals and communities with access and functional needs are critical to successfully meeting the needs of all community members during a disaster,” says Brian Altman, PhD, NCDMPH’s Education Director. “This video demonstrates an exceptional example of these two groups coming together to share knowledge about their specific areas of expertise and how this information can be integrated to enhance emergency preparedness plans.”

Persons with access and functional needs include people with disabilities, those who live in institutionalized settings, the elderly, children, people with limited English proficiency/non-English speakers, and those who are transportation-disadvantaged. Public health workers, first responders, nurses and physicians will find these videos of particular interest.

January 29, 2016

-- Zika Virus Becoming Increasing Concern to Public Health Organizations --

The Zika virus is becoming an increasing concern to national and international health organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Zika virus is spread to people through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). However, it is the suggested possible relationship between the virus and a neurological birth disorder in addition to the rapid spread of the virus across the globe that is most alarming to health officials. There is currently no vaccine to prevent Zika or medicine to treat the infection.

The WHO estimates 3 million to 4 million people across the Americas will be infected with the virus in the next year. The CDC is warning pregnant women against travel to 24 countries including Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Martin, Suriname, Samoa, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Health officials in several of these countries are telling female citizens to avoid becoming pregnant, in some cases for up to two years.

NCDMPH encourages all health professionals to access Library of Medicine Zika Virus Health Information Resources to keep up with the most current information about the virus.

January 17, 2016

-- Preparation for Environmental Disasters Is a 365-Day-a-Year Challenge --

An environmental disaster is a disaster to the natural environment due to human activity, which distinguishes it from the concept of a natural disaster. It is also distinct from intentional acts of war such as nuclear bombings. Other environmental disasters include those involving radiation, air pollution, power outages, and hazardous materials.

Forklift operator unloads pallet of FEMA-supplied water in an Ames, Iowa.

A timely example of an environmental disaster is currently taking place in Michigan. Last week, federal emergency aid was made available to the state to supplement state and local response efforts in the area affected by contaminated water. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating all disaster relief efforts to alleviate the hardship caused by the emergency on the local population. FEMA is providing water, water filters, water filter cartridges, water test kits, and other necessary related items. Another chemical incident is currently taking place in California where a natural gas leak at the Southern California Gas Company Aliso Canyon Facility is affecting the Porter Ranch neighborhood in Los Angeles.

Resources concerning the presence of lead in the Flint water system compiled by SIS and the Greater Midwest Regional Medical Library.
Aliso Canyon gas leak resources from the Pacific Southwest Regional Medical Library.
Aliso Canyon gas leak resources  PDF  from the National Library of Medicine.

Usually, little or no warning precedes environmental disasters. However, there are resources available to help prepare for and respond to such incidents. NCDMPH encourages health educators, health care workers and the general population to access a variety of resources available at www.ready.gov. NCDMPH also has a host of resources for disaster recovery.

January 12, 2016

-- AAP: Stockpile of Meds for Children in Disasters Falls Short of Requirements --

FEMA worker aids child after Hurricane Marilyn.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued an important policy statement PDF  noting the deficit of medical countermeasures (MCMs) available to aid children during a disaster. These include vaccines and pharmaceuticals, particularly those in appropriate pediatric formulations.

The AAP concludes that while children represent nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, they are affected disproportionately by most disasters and public health emergencies. The organization recommends that the nation ready itself by stockpiling appropriate medication formulations for children, such as liquids, and age- or size-based dosing instructions in order to the fill the existing supply gap. More research into the effectiveness and safety of the emergency use of unapproved drugs and devices for children is also required.

The NCDMPH supports these critical recommendations, and has compiled pediatric disaster preparedness resources for use by health educators, practitioners and the general public.

January 5, 2016

-- Midwestern Rivers Flooding Reminds Us: Turn Around, Don't Drown.® --

Turn Around, Don’t Drown.®

The new year has brought major flooding across America's heartland which will be around for weeks to come as Midwestern rivers surges south. According to CNN, as of January 4, rising waters and storms have killed more than two dozen people in Missouri and Illinois.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Ready campaign offer the following tips for persons affected by flooding:

  • Return home only when authorities say it is safe.

  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.

  • Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded.

  • Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

  • Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.

Access more resources about coping with flooding as the result of a natural disaster.

— ω —