Public Health, Mental Health, and Emergency Medicine
The Center for Law and the Public's Health at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins Universities has released three checklists for voluntary use by county, city, state, and federal public health agencies in assessing their legal preparedness for public health emergencies. The checklists are "Civil Legal Liability and Public Health Emergencies," "Interjurisdictional Legal Coordination for Public Health Emergency Preparedness," and "Local Government Public Health Emergency Legal Preparedness and Response."
Pan American Health Organization's Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Coordination Program
The Web site of the Pan American Health Organization's (PAHO) Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Coordination Program provides an overview of the program; a section on "Dealing With Disasters" that includes discussion groups, donation guidelines, an index of contact persons in Latin America and the Caribbean, and situation reports; a catalog of publications including full-text documents and newsletters from PAHO; a link to the Regional Disaster Center in San Jose, Costa Rica (see below) and its extensive database (11,000 documents) of hazards/disaster literature; information on PAHO's Humanitarian Supply Management System (SUMA); a section entitled "Technical Guidelines" that answers many questions about the provision of public health in emergencies (this section includes contact information for experts in various public health areas); a Virtual Disaster Library; and extensive links to other disaster management resources on the Internet. There is also a special section on El Nino; links to World Health Organization Collaborating Centers; the latest issue of the Disaster Section's excellent newsletter, Disasters: Preparedness and Mitigation in the Americas; and the findings from several PAHO/WHO conferences on disasters.
The Global Health Disaster Network is a Net site created to make disaster health and medical information available globally. It includes nodes in both Japan and the United States that offer an extensive bibliography of journal articles on disaster medicine, on-line publications, and links to other sites with disaster medicine information.
The CDC's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) has issued several online Prevention Guides to Promote Your Personal Health and Safety Before, During, and After Emergencies and Disasters in both English and Spanish. The guides cover earthquakes, extreme cold, extreme heat, floods, hurricanes, and tornados. The earthquake guide, to take one example, covers general information about earthquakes, how to prepare for a quake, inspection of a home for possible hazards, what to do during and after an earthquake, and issues concerning people with special needs. It includes several checklists, including suggested first aid and survival kits for the home, automobile, and workplace.
A new compilation of reports entitled “Natural Disasters,” has been added to the Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The compilation features links to previously published reports regarding the assessment of health needs and surveillance of morbidity and mortality after hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters.
Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication: By Leaders for Leaders
This resource, available free online from the Centers for Disease Control, gives leaders tools to help them speak to the public, media, partners, and stakeholders during an intense public-safety emergency. Topics include the psychology of communicating in a crisis, the leader’s role as a spokesperson, working with media during a crisis, and public health and media law.
This Web site from the Environmental Health Services Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for environmental Health serves as a clearinghouse of information resources related to emergency and terrorism preparedness for environmental health practitioners.
The Emergency Services and Disaster Relief Branch (ESDRB) of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) (part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services), in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, administers the Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program, overseeing national efforts to provide emergency mental health services to survivors of presidentially declared disasters. The branch's activities are divided into three areas:
- Services to individuals and communities affected by disasters
- Services to state and local mental health administrators
- Services to other groups
The ESDRB Web site provides information about each of these areas, as well as a half dozen documents and manuals on the provision of mental health services following disaster, including Psychosocial Issues for Older Adults in Disasters and a Best Practices document that describes exemplary disaster crisis counseling programs implemented across the country.
These Web pages from MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, provide links to information on health-related issues pertaining to natural disasters, coping with disasters, and disaster preparation and recovery.
The UCLA Center for Public Health and Disaster Relief has defined its mission as developing "a curricular focus area and research agenda that examines how natural and human-generated disasters relate to the public's health." The curriculum is being designed to prepare public health professionals for the interdisciplinary roles they play in preparing communities prior to disaster, and during the recovery period following a mass population emergency. This Web site provides information about this new center, its goals and programs, people and organizations involved in its development, and its current offerings.
The World Health Organization's Department of Emergency and Humanitarian Action Web site provides up-to-date details about ongoing health crises around the world, as well as articles from its EHA Highlights newsletter. The department also maintains the "Health Intelligence Network for Advanced Planning" (HINAP) on this site. HINAP consolidates baseline health information for selected countries, identifies health issues of primary concern, and makes this information available for program planning. Up-to-date information is provided during an emergency, permitting program adjustment due to changing circumstances, thereby minimizing mortality and morbidity from preventable causes.
Via the second Web address above, the World Health Organization (WHO) Protection of the Human Environment (PEH) Program offers Health Guidelines for Vegetation Fire Events - a document describing wildfires generally, discussing health problems due to fire- caused air pollution, and laying out guidelines for public health preparedness for, response to, and long-term mitigation of this problem. Besides bounteous information on the wildfire health hazard, the document provides an extensive bibliography, list of acronyms, glossary, and ten other appendices with additional information.
This Web site on global environmental change from the World Health Organization focuses on large-scale and global environmental hazards to human health, including climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, loss of biodiversity, changes in hydrological systems and the supplies of freshwater, land degradation, and stresses on food-producing systems.
The Disaster Mental Health Institute (DMHI) is a State of South Dakota Board of Regents Center of Excellence offering an undergraduate minor in disaster response and a doctoral specialty track in clinical/ disaster psychology at the University of South Dakota. The institute also hosts an annual "Conference on Innovations in Disaster Mental Health." The DMHI Web site provides in-depth information about the institute and conference, a list of available publications, as well as several online booklets on coping with the aftermath of disasters.
In the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council (PWSRCAC) sponsored research to learn how to mitigate the psychological and sociological impacts of a major oil spill or other technological disaster. The mitigation strategies are contained in the guidebook Coping With Technological Disasters. This guidebook was developed because of the need for a human impacts "contingency plan," and it provides a framework for communities to deal with the mental health issues of a catastrophic oil spill or other technological calamity.
The Trauma Information Pages offer information about emotional trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and disaster mental health.
This site provides information about disaster mental health (DMH) concepts and techniques (including material on the phases of response to disaster, typical reactions to traumatic events, defusing and debriefing techniques, self-care tips for victims and relief workers) planning checklists to help manage relief operations, disaster preparedness, and volunteering with the American Red Cross DMH team. An extensive bibiliography is also available form the site.
This Web page from the Santa Cruz County, California, chapter of the American Red Cross features links to various resources for assessing and protecting the mental health of disaster volunteers, including the Disaster Mental Health/Critical Incident Annotated Bibliography of Web Resources.
This Web site by the RAND Corporation was designed to support state and local public health emergency preparedness activities. It includes a searchable database of public health emergency preparedness exercises that have been evaluated by a team of RAND researchers.
Public health is essential to the emergency response capability of any community, and as such it must have the ability to cooperate and collaborate with other responding agencies during emergencies. To best do so, it is important that public health agencies structure their emergency response plans according to the frameworks of the National Incident Management System and the Incident Command System (ICS). This guide, Public Health Incident Command System (PHICS): A Guide for the Management of Emergencies or Other Unusual Incidents within Public Health Agencies (2005), provides an overview of how the standardized ICS system is applied within the context of public health. Appendices in Volume II feature job action sheets, forms, an emergency plan outline, and a resource directory. Available free online from the Center for Public Health Preparedness, University at Albany School of Public Health.
The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices produced this issue brief titled “State Strategies for Fully Integrating Public Health into Homeland Security.”