Our Latest News and Events

September 27, 2015

-- Lessons Learned by Nation’s Health Experts One Year After Ebola --

It's been a year since the first person in the United States was diagnosed with Ebola. The case of Thomas Duncan revealed gaps in how the nation handles infectious disease and many lessons were learned. TIME magazine recently interviewed some of the country's top health leaders and asked what they had wished they had known during the crisis and how response to future outbreaks will be handled. The following are highlights of "Here's What U.S. Health Experts Learned from Ebola One Year Later."

Special Clinical Studies Unit at NIH

Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), emphasizes the "need to guard against complacency," and references the CDC's funding of more than 55 local and regional Ebola treatment centers as a positive result of the crisis. The Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, also speaks of the importance of funding treatment centers at all times, not just when there is a critical problem.

Nicole Lurie, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at Health and Human Services contends that the nation is "in a far, far better place than we were a year ago." She emphasizes the need to practice, exercise and train in order to avoid the pitfalls of the country’s "big national attention deficit." Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, draws attention to his belief that general hospitals are not equipped to handle such cases, superficial training is inadequate and that "administering minute-by-minute life-saving therapy with all the proper machines, respirators and pick lines" is vital.

September 20, 2015

-- New Curriculum Highlights Care Considerations for Seniors in a Disaster --

NCDMPH’s New Caring for Older Adults in Disasters curriculum

NCDMPH has just released its newest resource for health educators and trainers, "Caring for Older Adults in Disasters: A Curriculum for Health Professionals."

Developed through the support of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Caring for Older Adults in Disasters (COAD) curriculum is comprised of 24 lessons in 7 modules covering topics ranging from special considerations for older adults in specific types of disasters to ethical and legal issues related to the care of the senior population during a disaster.

"This comprehensive new resource will benefit all healthcare professionals in preparing themselves and their staff for the realities of caring for seniors during a natural or man-made disaster," said Kenneth Schor, DO, MPH, Acting Director, NCDMPH. "This issue grows in importance by the day as, according to the Administration on Aging, America's older adult population (65+ years) is expected to grow to over 21 percent of the population by 2040."

The COAD curriculum's lessons range from 30 to 120 minutes in length based on the particular learning context. They include suggested learning activities for educators to engage their learners, as well as required and supplemental readings for both learners and educators. The curriculum can be used in its entirety, teaching all lessons in the order provided, or trainers may select individual lessons or portions of lessons most relevant to their learners. The curriculum's material can be adapted to best meet a specific setting and learner needs by substituting resources, modifying activities, or augmenting content.

Press Release 09-21-2015: New Curriculum Highlights Care Considerations for Seniors during a Disaster PDF 

September 14, 2015

-- Meeting the Unique Challenges of Nursing Home Disaster Preparedness --

Meeting the Unique Challenges of Nursing Home Disaster Preparedness

The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) invites you to attend our free webinar, "Nursing Home Emergency Preparedness: A Comprehensive Citywide Approach in New York City" on September 22 at 1 PM Eastern. Danielle Sollecito, LMSW, and Marc Jean, MPH, both of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will present this webinar based on the results of their Nursing Home Emergency Management Program. Ms. Sollecito is the Department's Senior Program Manager of Long Term Care Facility Preparedness and Response, and Mr. Jean is a CDC Preparedness Field Assignee at the Department.

This one-hour webinar will include a review of pre- and post-assessment tools used with each of 57 participating nursing homes and a discussion of the coaching sessions and tabletop exercises utilized in the program. All NCDMPH webinars are free and feature live captioning.

Click here to access this webinar on September 22.

September 9, 2015

-- Being Prepared for Disasters Is a Year Round Goal --

.  Lightening or accidents also often trigger wildfires which usually begin unnoticed.  FEMA’s advice includes never assuming that someone has already called about a fire.  Always call 911 to report a fire of any kind.

September is National Preparedness Month and NCDMPH encourages its stakeholders to support the critical message of this year's campaign: Don't Wait. Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today. Since its inception by FEMA in 2004, the month's aim has been to educate and empower Americans to prepare to and respond to all types of emergencies, including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

The focused theme for this week is wildfires. Summer may soon be coming to a close, but it doesn't mean an end to many outdoor activities involving fire and flammable materials. Lightening or accidents also often trigger wildfires which usually begin unnoticed. FEMA's advice includes never assuming that someone has already called about a fire. Always call 911 to report a fire of any kind.

Trainers and educators can do their part to increase awareness of this national issue by integrating any or all of NCDMPH's valuable teaching resources on dealing with the public health aspects of wildfires.

August 31, 2015

-- NIEHS Report Reveals Gaps in Ebola Response Training --

In August 2015, the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) issued a report "Ebola Biosafety and Infectious Disease Response Training," a needs assessment and gap analysis for the NIEHS Worker Training Program. The 25-page report highlights the need to implement changes in biohazard preparedness for future Ebola outbreaks as well as other infectious diseases including SARS, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and pandemic influenza.

Students are shown the proper techniques for removing their personal protective equipment (PPE) during a training session at the San Antonio Military Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.  Source:  CDC

Among the report's findings were that better communications across disciplines and organizations is required; training on how to address the stigma of being an Ebola virus disease worker is lacking; and sustainability of preparedness depends on applying training to daily functions rather than just for episodic outbreaks.

The report was created based on a variety of methodologies including a literature search for Ebola training; a Web search for existing Ebola training courses; meetings and interviews, and an online survey of stakeholders assessing their experience with Ebola training.

The NCDMPH strongly supports this work by the NIEHS and other evidence-based training gap analyses which seek to improve preparedness for disasters of all kinds.

August 25, 2015

-- Hurricane Katrina: What Have We Learned After 10 Years? --

On this, the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we at the NCDMPH take time to reflect on the lives lost, the injured and the untold numbers who experienced personal losses of all kinds. Also in our thoughts are the long-fought battle to recovery and those who continue their journey to return to normalcy.

This August 29, 2005 photo shows a flooded New Orleans neighborhood with a roadway going down into flood waters.

Equally important is accessing the lessons learned from Katrina, one of the five most deadly natural disasters in the country's history. Much has been written on the topic, but a thought-provoking standout is On Risk and Disaster edited by Ronald J. Daniels, Donald F. Kettl, and Howard Kunreuther just three months after the disaster. Take time to read excerpts from the book Six Lessons From Katrina Loom Even Larger 10 Years Later. Is the country ready for another Katrina-like disaster and what would you do differently?

To learn more about the experience of Katrina first responders and how to better manage all-hazards events, view NCDMPH's extensive knowledge base on Hurricanes, Typhoons and Cyclones.

August 18, 2015

-- Kids Are School-Ready When Immunizations Are Current --

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has designated August as National Immunization Awareness Month. Join the NCDMPH in supporting National Immunization Awareness Month The timing is particularly relevant as in these last few weeks of summer, children are preparing to start or get back to school. Part of this rite of passage for parents is ensuring their children have the proper vaccinations before they begin the new school year.

When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough. For example, more than 48,000 cases of whooping cough were reported in the United States in 2012.

The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) is an ardent supporter of the CDC's efforts in promoting the importance of immunizations for children. Protecting people -- of all ages -- against serious diseases is a critical component of preparedness and public health. We also have a host of pediatric preparedness materials to assist you with other child-related public health issues.

August 11, 2015

-- Competency Connector: Know What You Need to Know --

NCDMPH is pleased to introduce a new tool, the Competency Connector, which enables healthcare professionals to gauge their knowledge in preparing for disasters and public health emergencies. This annotated bibliography contains publications with critical knowledge broken down into six categories of levels: Core, Profession, Organization, Specialist, Deployment, and Focal Areas.

Competency Connector pyramid

The Competency Connector pyramid provides an at-a-glance view of the six categories and allows users to simply click on the level in which they are interested. Each level is populated with disaster health competency sets including white papers and grey literature, specifically intended for persons engaged in the selected level of involvement. All resources enumerate specific competencies for learning in disaster health, are directed toward a health or health-related profession, and are written in English.

The Competency Connector will be updated as needed based on the emergence of new and novel information in the disaster and public health emergency field.

August 04, 2015

-- Learn to Integrate Pediatric Needs into Your Hospital Policies --

Little boy plays while debris is removed from the local general store after a severe flood devastated this community.

The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) invites you to attend our free webinar, "Integrating Pediatric Needs into Hospital Disaster Preparedness Policies" on August 25 at 1 PM Eastern. Elizabeth Edgerton, MD, MPH, and Anthony Gilchrest, MPA, EMT-P, will present this webinar which is based on their award-winning poster from Learning in Disaster Health 2014. Dr. Edgerton is Director of the Child, Adolescent and Family Health Division at the Health Resources and Services Administration, and Mr. Gilchrest is EMS Program Manager at the EMSC National Resource Center, Division of Emergency Medicine.

This one-hour webinar will include a review the authors' "Checklist of Essential Pediatric Domains and Considerations for Hospital Preparedness Policies," which is designed to complement and augment existing disaster resources, both pediatric-specific and general. All NCDMPH webinars are free and feature live captioning.

Click here to register for this webinar.

July 28, 2015

-- New Food-Related Emergency Exercise from FDA --

Learn how to prepare for food-related emergencies with a new exercise from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "Mass Mayhem." This latest addition to the FDA's Food Related Emergency Exercise Bundle (FREE-B) involves an outbreak of foodborne illness at a large public venue, and can help public health and other officials understand and coordinate their roles and responsibilities, and prepare for a food-related emergency.

A key to avoiding many foodborne illnesses is hand washing.

Various emergency response personnel can benefit from these table-top exercises, including government regulatory and public health officials, first responders, emergency managers, and law enforcement, as well as their counterparts in the private sector. The exercises were developed in cooperation with numerous federal and state partners who contributed their knowledge in evaluating existing food emergency response plans, protocols, and procedures.

The FDA plans to complete two additional food related emergency exercises: "Wat'er You Thinking" and "Foul Fodder," which will cover possible contamination of a municipal water supply and contamination of food and/or animal feed, respectively. NCDMPH applauds the FDA's ongoing work in helping to ensure food safety during a disaster or other emergency.

July 21, 2015

-- 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.

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 Global disaster response in action 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.

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