Last night I looked up and watched as four strangers applied splints to my arm and leg. Another stranger applied pressure to my carotid artery to stem the bleeding. They worked quickly and watched constantly for any changes in my condition. I felt no pain throughout the process, as I was the volunteer victim during the final hands-on session of my eight-week CERT training course. (CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team, a component of Citizens Corps, which is administered by FEMA. In the United States, there are over 1,100 community CERT programs.) My “victim” experience gave me a deep appreciation of the value of citizen volunteer groups, as they are likely the ones to provide initial treatment in the event of large-scale casualty situation.
Librarians can bring many skills to the emergency planning community. In CERT alone, there is a great need for database managers, newsletter writers, web page maintainers, social media specialists, and information providers at call centers. I am a member of the Info Team, a group of volunteers that takes non-emergency calls whenever the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) has been activated. An example of the type of call the Info Team would receive is someone asking about the availability of pharmacies following a disaster. I’ve also volunteered to provide assistance with social media, such as Twitter.
I highly encourage all librarians to explore ways to take part in emergency preparedness and response activities in their communities or institution. Go to the Citizen Corps website (URL: http://www.citizencorps.gov/) and do a zip code search in the box labeled Find Your Local Council to find contact information for area Citizen Corps organizations. In addition, you can find other volunteer groups by going to the National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (URL: http://www.nvoad.org/states#sevend) and searching the Membership tab for your state. Finally, if you want a higher level of training on providing access to information for emergency preparedness and response, check out the Disaster Information Specialization Program offered by the Medical Library Association and the National Library of Medicine (URL: http://www.mlanet.org/education/dis/).
Libraries and librarians are playing a greater role in emergency preparedness and response throughout our nation. Emergency planners are recognizing our value and are working librarians and libraries into their planning strategies. There is a place for each of us somewhere in those strategies. All it takes is some time and commitment. The rewards are immeasurable.
Many thanks to Gail Kouame and all the Emergency Preparedness & Response (EP&R) State Coordinators in the Pacific Northwest Region (PNR) of NN/LM for sending us their white paper describing PNR’s regional efforts to assist hospital librarians in emergency preparedness. Click here to view: Region 6 Emergency Preparedness Report Feb 2011-1
The paper includes an accounting of how their initiative developed and was implemented, along with photos of the Coordinator group and the emergency kits and promotional items they distributed. There are also documents in the appendix of the paper that will no doubt be helpful in similar efforts. Thanks to all of you who prepared the report, and congratulations on work well done!
Want to be able to communicate with your community or institutional first-responders in case of an emergency? Would you like to be included in emergency preparedness and response activities in your institution or community? If so, you need to become familiar with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). This system provides a common language and structure for response that is shared by all first responders and emergency management people in the U.S. NIMS training is free and open to all, and you can view the course offerings at http://training.fema.gov/IS/NIMS.asp on the FEMA site. We recommend starting with IS-700 (available here http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/is/is700a.asp), which provides an overview of the system, then you can add any courses that seem particularly applicable to your role. Most modules, especially the introductory-level ones, are available to be taken asynchronously on your own computer and at your own pace, and you can probably complete one in about 20 minutes or so. So let’s resolve that 2011 will be the year we increase our knowledge base for emergency response and make ourselves more valuable to our institutions and communities!
Recently, we facilitated a meeting in Hampton, VA which was aimed at establishing relationships among public libraries, medical libraries, and community emergency preparedness and response. Our guest speaker was Teresa Blakeslee, the Peninsula Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator for Virginia. She spoke about the role of the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in community preparedness and response, and helped us to identify possible roles for librarians who are interested in participating in that work. In addition to the health professionals who are deployed to emergency response sites, they need support people, too, and librarians typically have lots of skills that would benefit them, such as organizational abilities, communication skills, technological proficiency, and public service. MRC provides free training and maintains a database of volunteers based on abilities, willingness to be deployed locally or outside the area, special skills such as interpretive/translation skills, etc. To find out more, visit their website at http://www.medicalreservecorps.gov/HomePage.
Ideas for becoming involved:
* Participate in initiatives that enhance and strengthen public health such as vaccination and health education programs
* Become familiar with existing local emergency plans, procedures and facilities
* Receive free training and continuing education on topics like personal safety in emergency situations, emergency management, Incident Command System
On Tuesday, January 11, at 2 PM EST, FEMA’s Community Preparedness Division will present the first 2011 webinar in the Community Preparedness Webinar Series: Collaborative Planning–Engagement of the Whole Community. The live webinar is available to the first 500 log ins at www.citizencorps.gov/news/webcasts/planning.shtm, and will also be available via recording on the website. Previously recorded webinars are available on the Citizen Corps site at http://www.citizencorps.gov/news/webcasts.shtm.
Anyone who needs special accommodations or requires assistance to view or listen to the webinar is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 5 PM EST on Friday, January 7th.
Dan Wilson, Coordinator of NNLM’s Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, has updated the slides and the notes that are available for teaching the “10-Step Approach to Service Continuity Planning” class. They are available from the “Training” page here on the site.
From Rita Smith, Outreach & Education Coordinator, Mercer University Medical Library:
On April 15th, a full day of emergency preparedness planning was offered to 30 members of GaIN, the Georgia Interactive Network for Medical Information. GaIN is centered at the Mercer University Medical Library in Macon, Georgia, with members representing a variety of healthcare and educational institutions across Georgia, including many small rural hospitals. Carolyn Klatt, the Georgia state coordinator for NN/LM emergency preparedness, led an excellent session on the “10-Step Approach to Emergency Preparedness Planning,” which was followed by an interactive planning scenario and discussion of “buddy” agreements using the Memorandum of Understanding and Mutual Aid Agreements available at the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Toolkit website. Participants also received samples of the Pocket Response Plans (PReP) developed by the Council of State Archivists, along with waterproof envelopes in which to store their own plans.