Disaster Information Outreach Symposium Re-cap

Over two hundred people gathered last week in Bethesda, MD on the campus of the National Library of Medicine and at the Marriott Bethesda North hotel for two days of immersion in information service needs and provision in times of emergency or disaster.  “Disaster Information Outreach:  A Symposium for Information Professionals Meeting Disaster Health Information Needs,” was held on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 29-30, and provided by the Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC), Specialized Information Services, National Library of Medicine.
 
Stacey Arneson, Cindy Love and others at  DIMRC did an outstanding job of gathering well-qualified speakers from an array of backgrounds and experiences, all of whom presented valuable insights and lessons learned, and answered questions from the large crowd at each session.  Equally helpful were the great networking opportunities provided during breaks and at the evening session for catching up with colleagues, meeting new acquaintances in the world of emergency planning, and visiting with representatives from emergency management organizations from the area.  One of the groups was Girl Scout Troup 5127 of Potomac, MD, who shared with us their accomplishment of having been awarded the “Emergency Preparedness Patch”–and their motto for this activity:  “Don’t be scared; be prepared.”  Many thanks to everyone at DIMRC and NLM who contributed to the planning and execution of the symposium for these wonderful two days.  If you weren’t able to attend or to listen to the webcast “live,” check the symposium site at http://disaster.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/symposium2011.html in the next few days to see the archived version.

DIMRC Symposium Webcasts

We hope to see many of our readers at the Disaster Information Outreach Symposium in Bethesda on March 29 and 30, but if you can’t get there in person, there’s good news!  Both days will be videocast via the web, see details here:

“Please see http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=9836  for day 1 and http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=9837 for day 2. Prior to the event, you may wish to visit the Web site and click “Player Software” near the top of the page to download the software necessary to view the program. A recording will be archived for later viewing following the symposium.”  (Thanks to Regina King whose email message provided this quote!)

To see what’s on the agenda and speaker bios, check the conference web site at http://disaster.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/symposium2011.html.

A wider-angle lens

Particularly at this time of year, when we are watching hurricanes and tropical storms heading for Puerto Rico and the southesastern Atlantic coast of the continental U.S., we tend to focus on natural disaster events and their consequences that occur here in the U.S., but it can improve our perspective to widen our view occasionally and look out at what is happening globally.

Thanks to Cara Breeden, who posts weekly about publications and resources available to assist with emergency preparedness and response on the DIMRC listserv, I arrived at an excellent tool for achieving this wider view in a report published by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster (CRED), entitled “Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2009:  the numbers and trends.”   The report is well written, and also nicely augmented with charts that tell the stories visually.  See especially pages 12 and 13 for charts that show a telling overview of worldwide natural disasters in 2009, and especially see the “Thematic Frames,” one on storms in Europe and Asia (p. 15) and one on earthquakes (p. 21).  Both of these special topics emphasize how important preparation has been for these events, from more early-warning systems to encouraging  better building practices in earthquake-prone areas, but also how much work remains to be done.  There is an excellent list of definitions of the types of disaster events near the end of the report; see Annex 1 on page 31.

While providing a wealth of detailed information, the report does, as its title says, show trends based on the data; the most important tool we have for making preparedness plans.

Message from DIMRC about responding to the earthquake in Haiti

Following is a message to the Disaster Outreach Librarians listserv from Cindy Love about what is available from NLM for help with meeting some of the needs in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti.  (See the link in the right column under Core Resources to subscribe to this listserv.)

“Dear Colleagues,

I’m sure we’re all distressed by the tremendous damage to Haiti and the Haitian people caused by yesterday’s earthquake. Please post news and information to this site about the use of disaster health information and potential or actual roles of libraries, librarians, and info professionals in the earthquake’s aftermath but try not to duplicate what is widely available from CNN and other major news sources.

NLM has an Earthquake topic page on MedlinePlus in English, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/earthquakes.html,  and in Spanish, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spanish/earthquakes.html, which you may find useful for general background information or for explaining earthquakes to children.

If there’s a need in the days ahead for patient education materials, MedlinePlus has “Health Information in Haitian Creole (Kreyol),” http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/languages/haitiancreole.html, and in French,  http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/languages/french.html.  Information in multiple languages is also available from the Refugee Health Information Network, http://rhin.org. There are also many materials at NLM related to disaster recovery and long-term medical and mental health needs, but we’ll save those for another day.

Cash is the best donation for an event like this. With cash, relief organizations can acquire exactly what communities need. The White House is suggesting donations to the Red Cross, http://american.redcross.org,  with additional donation guidance from the Center for International Disaster Information, http://www.cidi.org/incident/haiti-10a/.

For those curious about the NLM Disaster Information Management Research Center role in an event like this, the Center does not have an emergency response role unless requested by the US Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Operations Center. We are available to assist librarians providing information services in their institutions as their hospital, university, military unit, etc.  responds to the earthquake. For example, if a librarian needs assistance compiling medical information for a response team deploying to Haiti, we can help. To request assistance, send me an email or post to this list.

Submitted by Cindy Love

Disaster Information Management Research Center Specialized Information Services Division National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health Bethesda, MD 20892-5467 cindy_love@nlm.nih.gov

DIMRC web resource

The Disaster Information Research Center (DIMRC) of the National Library of Medicine’s Specialized Information Services division has produced a comprehensive web resource for health professionals including the Federal Response, International Resources, Genetic Sequence Information, PubMed Searches, Veterinary Resources and Información en Español:  “Enviro-Health Links–Swine Flu”