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Disaster Information Outreach Symposium

By Ann Pederson
Altru Medical Library
Altru Health System
Grand Forks, ND

Use of social media in the face of disasters has added another facet to disaster assistance and information. The staff at the national Red Cross is reviewing their recent survey and finds that Facebook is the fourth most frequent site uses as a means of obtaining emergency information after traditional broadcast sites. Three out of four individuals expect assistance to arrive within the hour after they have posted a message for help in a disaster.

Surprised? The recent symposium conducted by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health on March 29-30, 2011, provided participants with a few such surprises along with an expansive overview of disaster experiences and resources. While medical librarians can plan to provide medical information to health professionals working in disaster situations we are being encouraged to think beyond our facilities to the information needs of other professionals working in emergency management and the general public. As part of your own preparedness plans have you become acquainted with area public health officers, first responders, and emergency needs of your own public library? Perhaps you might consider being trained as part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or joining the Medical Reserve Core.

The Disaster Information Outreach Symposium presentation slides and videocast archive are now available online:

DAY 1: http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=9836
DAY 2: http://videocast.nih.gov/summary.asp?live=9837

I was able to attend the Symposium through a Professional Development Award funded with Federal Funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. N01-LM-6-3503 with the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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