Report of the NN/LM/New England Region Extreme Weather Disaster Summit

Dan Wilson, Liz Foley, Chris Montiverdi, Cindy Hahn, Siobhan Champ-Blackwell.  Photo by Susan Yowell.

Dan Wilson, Liz Foley, Chris Montiverdi, Cindy Hahn, Siobhan Champ-Blackwell. Photo by Susan Yowell.

Click on the link below to see the report of the NN/LM/New England Region Extreme Weather Disaster Summit that took place on November 22, 2013, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Special thanks to Meredith Solomon, Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, Cindy Hahn, Liz Foley, Chris Montiverdi, and Susan Yowell, for all their contributions.

NNLM NER Disaster Summit

A Call to Action

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.

 

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.

Access to EAI extended for Haiti earthquake response

The National Library of Medicine has announced that it is extending the free access period for the Emergency Access Initiative (EAI) until March 19, 2010 in order to continue to provide biomedical information to emergency responders in Haiti.  EAI “provides free access to full-text articles from major biomedicine titles to healthcare professionals, librarians and the public in the United States affected by disasters.”  (An exception to the restriction to the United States was made for the disaster in Haiti.)  Please see the EAI website for information.

Charleston Earthquake of 1886

Last week I was preparing for a presentation for the NLM site visit at the SE/A RML and noticed that there is a higher degree of earthquake risk for the coastal region of South Carolina (see map below). Investigating further, I learned about the Charleston earthquake of 1886. (Click on the link below for further information.) I also discovered that earthquakes in the eastern United States are felt for greater distance than earthquakes in the western United States. For example, the 1811 earthquake in western Tennessee rang church bells in Boston, Mass. (Reference: http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/prepare/factsheets/NewMadrid/.)

Charleston Earthquake