Disaster Summit: Report
By Emily Glenn, Seattle BioMed
On March 26, 2013, Disaster Summit: Magnitude 9 Cascadia Earthquake in the Pacific Northwest was held at Seattle BioMed in Seattle, WA. The event was made possible by a Regional Symposium award from NN/LM PNR.
The goals of the symposium were to familiarize attendees with disaster issues and resources specific to the Pacific Northwest; share best practices in disaster information management; facilitate communication and cooperation among librarians and emergency planners; increase librarian attendees’ knowledge of a range of potential information services they could offer members of the disaster workforce; and raise attendees’ awareness about emergency preparedness and response tools and training resources offered through the National Network of Libraries of Medicine.
The day began with an overview of a catastrophic “megathrust” earthquake in the Pacific Northwest and introduction to relevant USGS resources by Joan Gomberg of the USGS. Next, heard from John Schelling about Washington State Emergency Division Management efforts, including their Great Shake Out drill (coming in October). We also heard from the NLM Disaster Information Management Research Center about disaster health literature and tools. That afternoon, a panel on cultural competency provided insight into effective communication with non-English speakers during emergencies, particularly around requesting help and performing CPR. Panelists include Rodolfo Hurtado of Viva Hispanic Foundation; Hendrika Meischke of Health Services at University of Washington, and Mei Po Yip, General Internal Medicine, University of Washington. We rounded out the day with a presentation by Jennifer Chi from the Northwest Health Care Response network about unifying diverse response resources in Piece and King counties.
In addition to the presentations, three smaller breakout sessions were held in the afternoon. Gail Kouame, NN/LM PNR, facilitated an information session about the MLA Disaster Information Specialization Program. Marlita Reddy Hjelmfelt and Scott Reuters, both experienced in disaster communications, taught attendees about the VOST concept (Virtual Operations Support Teams). Radio technologies and alternative communication strategies were covered Bob Purdom, Telecommunications Field Engineer, Washington Military Department, and Monte Simpson, Communications Manager, Washington State Patrol.
The summit created an opportunity for cross-collaboration in the multidisciplinary event in the form of lots of face-to-face interaction between responders, policy makers, information leaders, and librarians. (Not surprisingly, many in attendance wore more than one of those hats.) Librarians learned more about participating in disaster preparedness and response in coordination with their workplace or community groups. For non-librarians, this event provided a window into the ways that information coordination could be enhanced with library or librarian resources. Throughout the day, many participants asked questions and expressed that they had learned new information. This kind of event reminds participants that it is important to be able to prepare for events – personally, at work, and in the community — every day.
Belfor provided partial sponsorship.