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Archive for the ‘Emergency Preparedness and Response’ Category

Health Information Exchange (HIE) and Disaster Preparedness

In November, 2010, the federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) convened the Southeast Regional HIT-HIE Collaboration (SERCH) project on Health Information Exchange in Disaster Preparedness and Response. The consortium included representatives from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas, with the goal of developing a strategic plan for sharing health information data among the Southeast and Gulf States during and following a declared natural disaster. The consortium members carefully assessed the challenges of accessing medical records and coordinating health care information for patient populations displaced due to a disaster. To date, there has been limited research on how HIE could be leveraged to provide timely access to clinical information in response to a disaster. The best way to ensure that health information can be accessed during an emergency is to ensure that it can be accessed during routine care. As connectivity through HIE expands, opportunities to link exchange efforts with emergency preparedness and response to provide health information to providers and patients in response to a disaster will increase.

The final report from the project, released in July, 2012, includes an actionable plan for incorporating health information exchange into disaster preparedness efforts. The phased approached suggested by SERCH supports immediate progress in the absence of routine, widespread health information exchange. It also addresses key legal, technical, and governance issues and offers a list of steps that states can take to align their health information exchange planning activities with ongoing emergency preparedness activities. The report includes five recommendations, which offer a path forward for states wishing to integrate disaster planning and health information exchange efforts, to help ensure that when a disaster strikes, patients and providers will have better access to information, and providers will be better able to provide appropriate care.

HHS Announces New Disease-Tracking Twitter Application, MappyHealth!

On September 14, 2012, the publication Government Health IT reported that HHS officials announced the release of MappyHealth, a new Web-based application tool available to public health officials. MappyHealth was the winning entry in a developers’ challenge competition, “Now Trending: #Health in My Community.” The challenge was sponsored by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Health officials can use data gained through the app to complement other health surveillance systems, to identify emerging health issues and potential public health emergencies in a community.

Currently, the top diseases being tracked by MappyHealth are the common cold, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), mosquito borne disease, pertussis, tuberculosis, influenza and gastroenteritis. The top five locations for these disease-tracking tweets are São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Orlando, Chicago and Los Angeles. The availability of MappyHealth provides a mechanism for local public health departments to effectively utilize social media to monitor disease trends as they occur in real time.

Psychological First Aid (PFA) Now Available for Mobile Apple Devices!

Image of Mobile Device with the PFA Mobile App on the Screen The US Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the National Center for Telehealth and Technology are excited to announce a new application, called PFA Mobile, now available in the iTunes App Store. The app is intended for disaster responders who are trained in Psychological First Aid (PFA).

PFA Mobile includes:

  • Summaries of PFA fundamentals
  • PFA interventions matched to specific concerns and needs of survivors
  • Mentor tips for applying PFA in the field
  • A self-assessment tool for readiness to conduct PFA
  • A survivor’s needs form for simplified data collection and easy referral

The app is free and will work on any mobile Apple device (iPod touch, iPhone, iPad). Please download and feel free to send any feedback or suggestions for future versions. An Android version may be available in the coming year. Anyone needing technical assistance or additional resources may contact Dr. Melissa Brymer.

New Disaster Topic Page from NLM: Droughts and Health

A new disaster topic page on Droughts and Health has been compiled by the National Library of Medicine’s Disaster Information Management Research Center. The page focuses primarily on human health effects of drought conditions as experienced in the United States. It is intended to grow as new materials become available on this topic. Health effects in the United States have historically included (or are speculated to include):

  • Changes to water quality, especially private wells, with potential for increased waterborne disease
  • Changes to air quality, including increased dust and particulates, with potential for increased respiratory distress
  • Poorer personal hygiene due to decreased water availability
  • Food crop or food processing contamination from use of recycled water
  • Increased suicide rate (higher than national average) among farm families affected by drought-related economic concerns

NLM Launches “People Locator” for the 2012 Philippine Floods

In response to the recent torrential rains in the Phillipines, which have submerged Manila and surrounding areas, the National Library of Medicine has launched the web site, People Locator for the 2012 Philippine Floods. The Lister Hill Center, an R&D division of the National Library of Medicine, developed People Locator, a web site to post photos and name, age, etc. for missing (or found) people by hospital staff, relief workers, or family members. It can be searched by the public and by relief workers who are assisting with family reunification efforts. The site is designed to receive information through the Web, an iPhone/iPodTouch/iPad app, and from other sites such as Google Person Finder. The underlying app is ReUnite, which is available at no cost. Missing persons’ photos and identifying information can be added through any of these channels.

Google Crisis Response has also activated Google Person Finder for the floods in the Philippines, in English and Filipino. The English-language Google home page is also available. NLM’s People Locator and the Google Person Finder share information, so that missing persons are then listed in both places. Additional information about the US government response to the flooding is available from the USAID home page for the Philippines and the US Embassy in Manila. The embassy is closed until at least August 9.

NLM Resources on Fires and Chemicals

Last night’s huge refinery fire spread thick, black smoke over the San Francisco area. Over 900 residents, complaining of respiratory and other problems, sought emergency care at local hospitals. The blaze occurred at Chevron Corporation’s plant in Richmond, about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco, around 6:15 p.m., and was contained by 11:00 p.m. The refinery is the largest producer of base oils on the West Coast, processing up to 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day into gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, which is about 15% of the state’s fuel-making capacity.

NLM has lists of resources on health effects of fires, wildfires, and smoke, with an emphasis on wildfires. Consumer health information on Fires is available on MedlinePlus in English and Spanish. Additional resources on Health Threats: Smoke is available on the Disaster Information Management Research Center’s (DIMRC) Fires and Wildfires webpage.

Chemical fires raise concern about the specific substances that may have burned. A refinery fire may involve crude oil, diesel fuel and other substances. For information on the health hazards of these specific chemicals, check Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER) for information on immediate response and Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) for exhaustive information. Search by the name of the chemical.

NN/LM Washington DC Power Outage Summit on September 5, 2012

The National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) is sponsoring a Washington DC Power Outage Summit on Wednesday, September 5, 2012. The meeting will be held at the Library of Congress James Madison Building, Mumford Room, from 9:00am to 4:30pm EDT. The morning session (9:00am-12:30pm) will consist of presentations and a panel discussion on the impact of power outages on library collections and services, and the roles libraries and librarians can play in their communities or institutions in response to a major power outage. In the afternoon (1:30-4:30pm), participants can choose from either a workshop on building your library’s readiness or a disaster information specialization continuing education class. The morning session will be written up in a report and distributed on the NLM DISASTR-OUTREACH-LIB listserv.

There is no charge to attend any of the sessions, but seating is limited. Registration is available for both morning and afternoon sessions. Featured speakers will include Dan Wilson, representing the NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative, as well as representatives from Pepco, the District of Columbia Public Library, the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), the Library of Congress Preservation/Emergency Preparedness Division, the Medical Reserve Corps, and NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC). Pepco is the electric service provider to customers in Washington, DC, and surrounding Maryland suburbs.

Funding opportunity for 2012 NLM Disaster Health Information Outreach Projects!

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) has announced a funding opportunity for small projects to improve access to disaster medicine and public health information for health care professionals, first responders and others that play a role in health-related disaster preparedness, response and recovery. Contract awards will be offered for a minimum of $15,000 to a maximum of $30,000 each for a one-year project. The deadline for proposals is Wednesday, August 8, 2012 at 2 pm EDT. Proposals are limited to six pages, plus supplemental materials such as resumes, letters of support, and a budget.

NLM is soliciting proposals from partnerships that include at least one library and at least one non-library organization that has disaster-related responsibilities, such as health departments, public safety departments, emergency management departments, pre-hospital and emergency medical services, fire/rescue, or other local, regional, or state agencies with disaster health responsibilities; hospitals; faith-based and voluntary organizations active in disaster; and others. NLM encourages submission of innovative proposals that enhance mutually beneficial collaboration among libraries and disaster-related agencies. For example, projects may increase awareness of health information resources, demonstrate how libraries and librarians can assist planners and responders with disaster-related information needs, show ways in which disaster workers can educate librarians about disaster management, and/or include collaboration among partners in developing information resources that support planning and response to public health emergencies. Summaries of the seven projects funded for 2011 are available for viewing.

The Request for Proposal (RFP) for this requirement has been split into two solicitations; one Partial Small Business Set-Aside (RFP No.: NIHLM2012411); and one Full and Open (RFP No.: NIHLM2012412). The solicitation notices are on FedBizOpps.gov as follows:

Partial Small Business Set-Aside and Full and Open.

For more information and instructions about the “Disaster Health Information Outreach and Collaboration Project 2012,” please visit the web site.

Introducing WISER for iOS 3.0, with Native Support for the iPad

Screenshot of WISER Identify ChemicalWISER for iOS 3.0, a universal app for Apple iOS devices, is now available. WISER is a system designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression advice. This new release adds native support for the iPad, in addition to support for the iPhone and iPod touch. New and updated features include:

Search WISER’s full set of known substances on the iPad: WISER’s full database of chemical, biological, and radiological substances is now available on the iPad. This includes trusted information for over 440 substances from NLM’s Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB).

Employ WISER’s popular Help Identify Chemical capability on the iPad: WISER for iOS touch includes a fully featured implementation of Help Identify Chemical, allowing a user to identify a chemical using physical properties, signs/symptoms, categorization, NFPA placards, and transportation containers. Users can save a help identify search for later recall and freely search the result list using any supported identifier.

Use WISER’s protective distance mapping feature on your iPad: Using a live map, visualize protective distance data for a given substance directly on your iPad. Track both your current position and the location of a plotted protective distance area. Note that WISER must have permission to use location services to track your current location. The accuracy of this capability is affected by the capabilities of your device (note that not all iOS devices include a GPS).

WISER for iOS is available for free and can be installed through the iTunes App Store. In addition, WISER is available as a standalone website and mobile website, a downloadable programs for Windows, and as downloadable apps for iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Palm OS.

Several additional updates are expected in the near future:

  • Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management (CHEMM) integration.
  • Updates to WISER’s Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) content to the newly released 2012 edition.
  • WISER for Android 3.0, which adds Help Identify Chemical and protective distance mapping to this popular platform.

NCTSN Guidelines for Helping Children Impacted by Wildfires

National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) logoThe National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) has various resources to help support those experiencing the devastating wildfires burning across several states. Children react and recover from wildfires and other disasters in a variety of ways, depending on their personal experience of the fire, previous experiences, and life circumstances. Resources in English and Spanish include:

In addition, NCTSN provides tips and information on children’s reaction, what parents can do to help their children and themselves, therapy for children, and what teachers can do to help their students and themselves. For more information about wildfires and readiness, response, and recovery to wildfires, visit the NCTSN Wildfires webpage.