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NLM Emergency Preparedness and Response Initiatives

In addition to its work on emergency preparedness and response with the NN/LM program, the National Library of Medicine has embarked on the following initiatives:

The Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC)

From the DIMRC Fact Sheet:

“Recognizing the untapped potential of library networks to aid in the nation’s disaster management efforts, NLM…has created the Disaster Information Management Research Center ( to help with national emergency preparedness and response efforts. Embedded within NLM’s Specialized Information Services (SIS) division, DIMRC is tasked with the collection, organization and dissemination of health information resources and informatics research related to disasters of natural, accidental, or deliberate origin.”

Emergency Access Initiative (EAI)

Maria Collins of NLM offered the following comments at a recent MLA 2008 Annual Meeting Sunrise Seminar:

“The Emergency Access Initiative is a collaborative partnership being discussed between NLM, NN/LM and participating publishers to provide free access to full-text articles from 300+ biomedical serial titles and select reference books to healthcare professionals and libraries affected by disasters in the United States. Let me emphasize that this is still under discussion and testing; and there is no final agreement, but we are hopeful at NLM. The idea for EAI grew out of discussions between NLM and publishers after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Both NLM and the publishers were interested in ensuring that biomedical literature remained available to those in affected areas after a disaster. NLM is currently running a proof of concept pilot test with several publishers to work out technical and logistical issues, and determine publicity needs…. We will be working on the pilot over the next several months to reach consensus with publishers so that we can move this project into production.”

Other Key NLM Resources that can help you prepare and respond to emergencies and disasters:


  • Disasters – Category found under Health Topics Tab
    Ten new health topics were recently released on this page, including Chemical Emergencies, Earthquakes, Floods, Fires, Hurricanes, Radiation Emergencies, Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, and Winter Weather Emergencies. The topic pages are available in both English and Spanish, and some of the topics also link to health information in multiple languages.
  • Disaster Preparation and Recovery topic page
    This topic page provides summaries and links to information in English, Spanish, and 14 other languages. The English page also links to Go Local for finding disaster preparation and recovery resources for about 30 geographic areas in the United States.

Environmental Health and Toxicology

  • NLM Enviro-Health Links: Disaster Recovery and Environmental Health provides information about recovering from natural and man-made disasters. It includes guides for state and local officials, links to state emergency management offices, information for emergency responders, guidelines for workers involved in environmental cleanup, and handling hazardous chemicals. Spanish-language disaster management information resources are also included. The site includes pre-formulated PubMed searches on the following topics: Disaster Emergency Medical Services, Disasters and Hazardous Chemicals, Disaster and Waste Management, and Molds and Mildew.
  • Special Populations: Emergency and Disaster Preparedness provides links to selected Web sites featuring emergency preparedness for special populations. This includes people with disabilities, people with visual or hearing impairments, senior citizens, children, and women. Links to information in languages other than English are also provided.
  •—Partners in Information Access for the Public Health Workforce provides resources and web links to resources dealing with bioterrorism and environmental health. It is supported by NLM and other public health agencies and organizations. It includes a Resource Guide for Public Health Preparedness, a gateway to freely available online resources related to public health preparedness, including expert guidelines, fact sheets, web sites, research reports, articles, and other tools. The resources may be searched by key word or browsed by topic.
  • Tox Town A-Z Disasters & Health provides basic, background information on toxic chemicals and environmental health risks associated with health risks which can follow hurricanes, floods, other natural disasters, as well as man-made disasters. The resource is useful for students, educators, and the concerned public who want to learn more about these topics.


PubMed includes over 30,000 references to literature related to disaster/emergency preparedness and response, including natural disasters, bioterrorism, chemical terrorism, and pandemic flu. Disaster medicine journals indexed in PubMed include American Journal of Disaster Medicine, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism, Disasters, Disaster Management and Response: DMR, Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, and Prehospital and Disaster Medicine.

Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER)

WISER provides a system to help emergency reponsers identify hazardous materials and respond to chemical emergencies. It contains information on over 400 chemicals and radiologic agents, as well as a radiation unit converter and WMD Response Guidebook. Different versions of WISER available include a PDA version (Palm OS, Pocket PC, and Smartphone), PC version for desktops and laptops, and a Web version, WebWISER.

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