Our Latest News and Events

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.

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