Our Latest News and Events.

-- HHS Rolls Out Comprehensive Disaster Management Resource Compendium --

A Disaster Medical Assistance Team from Pittsburgh staffed the unit set up in a football field.

Say hello to a new and outstanding resource from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – the HHS Response and Recovery Resources Compendium. The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) sponsored this gathering of its emergency management products, services and capabilities available to state, tribal, territorial and local agencies in one easy-to-navigate Web site.

Compendium users will find a vast array of resources to aid in their community’s plans to respond to and recover from disasters. Topics range from mass care and emergency assistance to decontamination and food safety and security. Also found in the compendium are a list of personnel such as medical staff from the U.S. Public Health Service and National Disaster Medical System who can be deployed to augment a community’s local hospital, shelter or public health staff.

Check back often as the compendium will be updated on a regular basis and expanded as federal agencies develop additional products, capabilities and services.

July 14, 2015

-- Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction --

On March 18, 2015 the United Nations (UN) Member States adopted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. Multiple US federal agencies were present, including US Agency for International Development, the State Department, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Global disaster response in action

The Framework's goal is, over the next 15 years, to "prevent new and reduce existing disaster risk through the implementation of integrated and inclusive economic, structural, legal, social, health, cultural, educational, environmental, technological, political and institutional measures that prevent and reduce hazard exposure and vulnerability to disaster, increase preparedness for response and recovery, and thus strengthen resilience." By signing on to the Framework, the countries involved have expressed their commitment to realizing this outcome, and national-level targets and indicators will contribute to the achievement of the overall goal and outcome of the Framework.

There are seven targets listed in the Framework PDF : reduce global disaster mortality, reduce the number of affected people globally, reduce direct disaster economic loss, reduce disaster damage to critical infrastructure and disruption of basic services, increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies, enhance international cooperation with developing countries, and increase the availability and access to multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster risk information. This framework is an important resource for learning about international priorities in disaster risk reduction over the next 15 years.

July 7, 2015

-- Operation Safe Haven --

Huge crowds gather on the National Mall in Washington DC to watch the July 4th Fireworks every year, and this year was no exception. However, strong storms that swept across the Washington DC Metro area caused the National Park Service and the United States Park Police to enact their Safe Haven Plan. With this plan in Fireworks going off above the National Mall. effect, attendees were instructed to evacuate the National Mall and seek shelter in common areas of Smithsonian Museum buildings and the lobbies of many other federal buildings on the National Mall. The plan, which is also designed to provide protection in the event of a terrorist attack, was a success, and after an hour the advisory was lifted. A spokeswoman for the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency said, regarding the cooperation among federal and local agencies demonstrated during this event, “What’s great is that we practice so often that we really do get to know each other.”

Plans like these are an example of preparing for disasters during mass gathering events, an important aspect of disaster preparedness. To learn more about disaster considerations in mass gatherings, please see pages on the topic from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Lancet. For more information about educating and training the domestic healthcare workforce on mass gathering concerns, please refer to our Resilience Through Learning page on explosions and mass gatherings.

June 30, 2015

-- FEMA Releases Disaster Data Visualization Tool --

FEMA recovery team

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently released an interactive disaster data visualization tool. This tool allows users to view data on disasters dating back to 1953, and users can view data at the state and county level. They are also able to view what kinds of disasters are most common, when during the year those disasters are most likely to occur, and access information on the specific disasters themselves. The raw data are also available and are accessible.

Knowing what disasters your county or region may be at risk for is an important first step in preparing for disasters. Once you’ve had a chance to check out what the risks are in your area, stop by Ready.gov and the NCDMPH Resilience Through Learning pages to learn more about how to prepare for specific disasters.

June 23, 2015

-- Wildfire Preparedness --

For much of the country, the hot, dry weather of summer can increase the risk of a wildfire breaking out. For example, a large fire in California that started on June 17, 2015 is currently reported as threatening 500 structures. Another fire that started on Wildfire Aparatus Staging Area in California June 17, 2015, this one in Arizona, forced the evacuation of 300 residents and has burned three homes.

For more information on wildfire preparedness, including specific measures you can take to protect your home from wildfires, please see ready.gov's wildfires page, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s wildfires page, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's interactive wildfire preparedness page. For more information about educating and training the domestic healthcare workforce on wildfires, please refer to our Resilience Through Learning page on wildfires.

June 16, 2015

-- ASPR Launches TRACIE --

On June 15, 2015, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) launched the Technical Resources Assistance Center and Information Exchange (TRACIE). Local officials hosting a Coastal Coalition meeting TRACIE is a platform to provide access to information, promising practices, and technical assistance to those working in public health or healthcare system preparedness.

Information and promising practices are found in the technical resources section. This section contains a searchable database of resources as well as topical collections such as healthcare coalitions development and organization, disaster operations, and disaster veterinary issues. The technical assistance center offers multiple modes for the user to contact TRACIE technical assistance specialists with questions or training needs. An additional feature of TRACIE is the information exchange; those engaging in preparedness can post questions for their peers and share experiences, tools, and information.

June 9, 2015

-- HHS Reports on the Use of MRC Volunteers in Sandy --

The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Inspector General recently released a report detailing the involvement of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in the response to Superstorm Sandy. They focused on New York and New Jersey, the states that experienced the most damage. Over 2,000 MRC volunteers were deployed in New York and New Jersey, and it was reported that they provided 18,000 hours of service.

The report highlights successes and challenges encountered during the response effort and presents the findings in the hopes that other states will be able to learn from them and apply them to their own planning. These successes and challenges center on communications and the staffing and operation of shelters.

To learn more about NCDMPH'’s work studying the long-term recovery of communities after Sandy, check out our field research page. To read more about how the MRC is utilizing the Core Competencies for Disaster Medicine and Public Health, check out our April 20, 2015 News and Events article.

NCDMPH thanks MRC volunteers for all that they do!

June 2, 2015

-- 2015 National Preparedness Report --

2015 National Preparedness Report

On May 28th, 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its partners released the 2015 National Preparedness Report (NPR). This annual report discusses the Nation’s progress towards meeting the 2011 National Preparedness Goal and discusses preparedness successes and challenges as they pertain to the whole community. The intent of the NPR is community-oriented as a whole, as its purpose is to "provide the Nation with practical insights on preparedness that can inform decisions about program priorities, resource allocations, and community actions."

Key findings from the report span a wide range of topical areas. For example, the report notes that businesses and public-private partnerships are increasingly using technology platforms in preparedness. In another example, the Ebola outbreak highlighted a significant challenge, namely how to coordinate response and recovery for incidents that do not receive Stafford Act declarations. This report is a valuable resource for learning about national trends in disaster preparedness.

May 25, 2015

-- Flooding, Severe Storms, and Tornadoes Strike Texas and Oklahoma --

A National Weather Service Wireless Emergency Alert –- Source: FEMA Image Library

Severe weather hit Texas and Oklahoma over Memorial Day Weekend, 2015. A state of disaster has been declared in 37 counties in Texas after tornadoes, severe storms, and flash floods ripped through the state. It has been reported that hundreds of homes have been washed away, and thousands of homes have been damaged. It has also been reported that tornadoes and flooding in Texas and Oklahoma have resulted in at least eight deaths. As of May 26, 2015 a flash flood emergency remains in effect in parts of Texas, as more severe weather is predicted and forecasters warn that even a small amount of additional rain could result in more flash floods.

For more information on flood preparedness, including specific information for flash flood preparedness, please see Ready.gov’s flood page. To subscribe to the US Geological Survey (USGS) alerts regarding water levels in your region, check out USGS’s WaterAlert service. For more information on preparing for and responding to tornadoes, please check our Resilience Through Learning page.

The National Center extends our thoughts to those affected by this tragedy and thanks the responders working in dangerous conditions.

May 17, 2015

-- EMS Week and EMS for Children Day 2015 --

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week is observed from May 17th to May 23rd. EMS professionals are integral to disaster response, and these brave men and women are often volunteers. They are often some of the first on the scene to care for the injured, at any time of day or night, as was seen during the recent Amtrak crash when EMS professionals worked throughout the night to find victims and transport them to nearby hospitals.

Medevac helicopter

President Obama issued a proclamation in honor of EMS week, in which he described the importance of EMS professionals. "At scenes of accidents and natural disasters, in times of personal crisis and national tragedy, [EMS professionals] offer essential services and demonstrate the strength and resilience of the American people. As these heroes rush forward for us, may we remember to stand for them, and may we never forget that an efficient, high-quality EMS system is crucial to ensuring care during any emergency."

During EMS Week, EMS for Children Day will be observed on May 20th. The purpose of this day is to "raise awareness about the need to improve and expand specialized care for children in the prehospital and acute care settings" as children often need specialized equipment and care in emergency settings.

Please see our Model Uniform Core Criteria for Mass Casualty Triage (MUCC) page to learn more about NCDMPH’s efforts to support EMS professionals. For resources to assist in educating and training the disaster healthcare workforce on issues regarding children in disasters, please see our online learning section.

NCDMPH would like to thank EMS professionals for all that they do!

May 5, 2015

-- National Nurses Week 2015 --

National Nurses Week

National Nurses Week, which runs from May 6 to May 12, is a week dedicated to celebrating "the role nurses play in delivering the highest level of quality care to their patients." Nurses play a critical role in disaster response and recovery. Their roles are myriad and include, but are not limited to, managing chronic conditions in people cut off from care during a disaster, conducting mental health screenings, providing vaccines during an outbreak, and treating patients injured in the disaster. They may respond to disasters within their communities or deploy with organizations like the American Red Cross.

Nurses were key in caring for patients when Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast. They were active in moving patients out of harm's way before the storm, in caring for patients when hospitals flooded and lost power, and ensuring that patients received care after the storm passed. Another recent example is the Ebola outbreak, when nurses staffed Ebola wards in the US and volunteered to go abroad to fight the outbreak in West Africa.

To learn more about the roles different professions, including nurses, fill in protecting the public's health in disasters, please see NCDMPH's Workforce Report. The NCDMPH would like to thank nurses for all that they do!

May 5, 2015

-- NCDMPH Receives Medical Reserve Corps National Partner Recognition Award --

The Uniformed Services University's National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health was presented with the 2015 Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) National Partner Recognition Award, April 7. The award is given annually by the Division of the Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (DCVMRC) to highlight the success and impact of the MRC network, their housing organizations, partners, leaders and volunteers. The DCVMRC is the national program office of the MRC and is housed within the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response’s Office of Emergency Management in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The MRC is a national network of volunteers, organized locally to improve the health and safety of their communities. The MRC network comprises 993 community-based units and 207,783 volunteers located throughout the United States and its territories.

MRC volunteers

"As an exemplary partner in our mission and endeavors, you have played a significant role in helping to raise MRC awareness, strengthen, update, and inform our core competencies, engage and embolden the importance of youth engagement in volunteerism and preparedness, as well as support our work in relation to the National Health Security Strategy and Implementation Plan," said CAPT Robert Tosatto, Director of DCVMRC. "We are grateful for the willingness of your staff to collaborate and offer expertise with the MRC network, and for the tremendous assistance and resources all of you have provided over the years. Your work has proven to be invaluable to the MRC network. I extend our sincere appreciation for the work and effort you and the NCDMPH have afforded us. We are honored to be your partner and to work with you. "

In response to the award, Dr. Kenneth Schor, Acting Director of NCDMPH, stated "Our Center has long valued the contributions of the MRC to community health sector preparedness, response, and recovery. I think this award helps to demonstrate how the Center is succeeding in creating valued national educational resources for the full-time and volunteer health professions workforce. We are thrilled and gratefully accept this award while resolving to enhance our support of the MRC."

The DCVMRC supports the MRC network by providing technical assistance, coordination, communications, strategy and policy development, grants and contract oversight, training and other associated services. It functions as a clearinghouse for information and best practices to help communities establish, implement, and maintain MRC units in order to achieve their local visions for public health and emergency preparedness. The DCVMRC also oversees the 11 MRC Regional Coordinators that represent the 10 MRC regions across the United States and its territories.

MRC volunteers include medical and public health professionals, as well as other community members without healthcare backgrounds. MRC units engage these volunteers to strengthen public health, improve emergency response capabilities and build community resiliency. They prepare for and respond to natural disasters, such as wildfires, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, and floods, as well as other emergencies affecting public health, such as disease outbreaks.

The original news article can be found here.

April 25, 2015

-- 2015 Nepal Earthquake --

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck 50 miles northwest of Kathmandu, Nepal, followed by multiple aftershocks ranging in magnitude from 4.5 to 6.6. Nepal has declared a state of emergency, and rescue operations have begun. The US Government has issued a disaster declaration for Nepal, an action that triggered the activation of a US Agency for International Development (USAID) Response Management Team and a Disaster Assistance Response Team, among other aid groups. NBC reported that over 7000 people are deceased, and the number is expected to rise as rescue teams reach isolated mountain communities.

Nepal Earthquake overview map

Please check our Resilience Through Learning page on earthquakes for more information on preparing for and responding to these disasters. This page has been updated with resources relevant to the Nepal Earthquake. Trainers, educators, and responders can engage with this resource. Additionally, the National Library of Medicine has activated their Emergency Access Initiative in order to give healthcare professionals responding to the earthquakes in Nepal free access to relevant resources.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) expects three to 14 aftershocks of magnitude 5.0 or greater in the week after the earthquake, and states that aftershocks strong enough to be felt (magnitude 3 or 4) will be common in the weeks to months after the earthquake. The total affected population has yet to be determined, but it has been estimated that 6.6 million people live within 100 km (62 miles) of the epicenter.

The domestic response effort includes an urban search and rescue team from Los Angeles, CA and Virginia Task Force 1, a team that includes paramedics, engineers, and urban search and rescue specialists, from Fairfax County, VA. The National Center extends our thoughts to those affected by this tragedy and thanks the responders working in dangerous conditions.

April 20, 2015

-- Core Competencies for Disaster Medicine and Public Health are Adopted Nationally for Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers --

The Division of Civilian Volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (DCVMRC) adopted the Core Competencies for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (DMPH Competencies) as the new competency set for the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Volunteers. There are over 990 MRC units across the nation with over 200,000 registered members.

The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) collaboratively developed the DMPH Competencies in 2012 with a multidisciplinary expert working group. "Constructing the training of MRC volunteers around these core competencies provides a learning framework for these community volunteers to improve their disaster capabilities. This should result in better care of our neighbors. The NCDMPH is thrilled with the MRC adoption of the core competencies and supports the DVMRC and MRC units as their implementation moves forward," said Dr. Kenneth Schor, Acting Director of the NCDMPH.

"The Competencies for Disaster Medicine and Public Health provide guidelines for a baseline set of skills for Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers. The guidelines will allow MRC unit leaders to develop training plans and cultivate response capabilities in their communities. They can also use the guidelines to improve coordination with response partners and more closely align with our national mission to improve the health, safety, and resiliency of the nation," said CAPT Rob Tosatto, Director of the DCVMRC.

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) developed resources designed to illustrate the connections between the DMPH Competencies and the mission and work of the MRC network. These resources can be downloaded from NACCHO's Medical Reserve Corps Toolbox and used to help supplement MRC Volunteer Orientations or to share with partners and key stakeholders. NACCHO also worked with MRC TRAIN  PDF  to develop a nationally recommended training plan for the MRC using the DMPH Competencies as the foundation for MRC Volunteer training. Please check out other pages on the NCDMPH website that provide a wealth of information about the competencies and general information in the field of disaster health.

To hear CAPT Tosatto discuss NCDMPH's core competency work and the adoption of those competencies by the MRC, check out the NACCHO podcast featuring CAPT Tosatto and Kara Marsh.

April 14, 2015

-- National Volunteer Week --

April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week, an event organized every year in both the US and Canada to show appreciation for volunteers. Across the country, volunteers play a key role in disaster response and recovery. The volunteer organizations that respond to disasters National Volunteers Week are diverse, and range from large, national-level groups like the Red Cross, the Medical Reserve Corps, and Community Emergency Response Teams to local community-based organizations to groups formed spontaneously after a disaster. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) includes volunteer organizations in its Whole Community approach to emergency management, and includes information on how to volunteer as part of its Ready campaign.

Please see NCMDPH’s Workforce Report to learn more about how volunteers contribute to the disaster healthcare workforce. The NCDMPH would like to thank all volunteers for their time, effort, and enthusiasm!

April 7, 2015

-- Food Safety after Floods and Power Outages – World Health Day 2015 --

Food Safety after Floods and Power Outages – World Health Day 2015

April 7th is World Health Day 2015, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has chosen to focus this year’s topic on food safety. The WHO notes that unsafe food is linked to about two million deaths annually around the world, and the safety of food can be compromised by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or chemicals.

It is important to consider food safety during and after disasters such as floods and hurricanes, as floodwaters can contaminate food supplies and electricity outages can result in frozen and refrigerated foods reaching unsafe temperatures. The CDC recommends that any food that has touched floodwater should be thrown out, as floodwater can contain pathogens as well as unsafe chemicals. If the power goes out and refrigerators and freezers are kept closed, food will only be safe to eat before four hours in the refrigerator, 24 hours in a half-full freezer, and 48 hours in a full freezer. The USDA has provided preparedness recommendations to ensure food safety, including storing foods on high shelves to avoid contamination from floodwaters.

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