MedChi Disaster Preparedness Committee
We live in a time of climate change, natural disasters, and fear of terrorism and pandemics. As physicians, we have an obligation to provide care for patients not just under “normal” circumstances but also during these potential crises. The Disaster Preparedness Committee is dedicated to helping physicians prepare themselves, their families, and their medical practices for these eventualities. Below is a list of Internet links that may assist Maryland physicians in this endeavor.
Web Sites for Disaster Preparedness Education
General Disaster Prep info:
- Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) This is a good general disaster reference site with preparation for a variety of types of disasters with a focus on individuals, families, and communities.
- Center for Disease Control (CDC) This provides disaster preparation for all public health emergencies including, but not limited to, infectious disease. This provides information for health professionals, individuals, families, with specific information for older adults and children. There is information on recent outbreaks and incidents which is updated regularly making this site a good one to visit frequently.
- FEMA National Incident Management System This is a more detailed disaster preparation site with a focus on a national perspective. There are links to numerous resources and training with the opportunity to sign up for regular alerts.
- Maryland Department of Health & Mental Hygiene’s Preparedness Office This provides local and regional disaster advisories, general disaster preparation information, and a link to MD Responds which is an organization that provides community disaster assistance.
More specific prep with links to training:
- FEMA Training Independent Study Site: This provides links to numerous independent study disaster training sites.
- National Disaster Life Support Foundation (for BDLS/ADLS training) The National Disaster Life Support Foundation, Inc. (NDLSF) oversees the National Disaster Life Support (NDLS) courses, a series of education programs to better prepare health care professionals and emergency response personnel for mass casualty events. The NDLS courses are comprehensive, all-hazards, competency-based, standardized, and multi-disciplinary. These courses assist health professionals respond to mass casualty events regardless the cause.
- FEMA Training Site This provides links to intensive disaster training courses at locations around the country.
Infectious disease disaster info:
- Department of Health & Human Services: Public Health Alert – Ebola Update
- Centers for Disease Control
- ProMed Mail Database This is an international internet infectious disease reporting system that rapidly communicates current disease outbreak information.
- Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) This is a group of medical professionals in the DC/MD region who provide medical care during a disaster.
Link to Maryland Responds volunteer organization:
- Maryland Responds Volunteer Center
- Maryland Board of Physicians Volunteer Corps
- Radiologic disaster prep site This is a detailed site for health care personnel for the preparation and management of all radiologic disasters.
Family disaster preparedness video game (adults and kids)
Maryland CERT This is a Community Emergency Response Team site for disaster preparation and training that has the goal of helping people provide assistance to their own communities following a disaster.
- Emergency Management Assistance Compact This is the nation’s state to state mutual aid system with links to training courses.
The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is the nation’s state to state mutual aid system. The website has a description of the legal authority for the compact and educational resources that include distance learning and registration for face-to-face instruction, often held in Emmitsburg, MD. The resources are targeted to personnel who expect to be deployed through EMAC. They are not approved for continuing medication education credit.
For physicians interested in assisting in disaster and health emergencies, the better option is to register with MD Responds at https://mdresponds.dhmh.maryland.gov/. MD Responds provides registrants with periodic announcements of training and continuing education opportunities.
Coping with Trauma
The effects of a disaster, terrorist attack, or other public health emergency can be long-lasting, and the resulting trauma can affect those not directly impacted by the disaster. CDC’s “Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event” lists resources that provide general strategies for promoting mental health and resilience. These materials were developed by various organizations on the basis of experiences in prior emergencies.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Resources
The SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline, provides 24/7, year-round crisis counseling and support for persons experiencing signs of distress as a result of disaster.
• Call 1-800-985-5990
• Call TTY for deaf/hearing impaired 1-800-846-8517
• Text TalkWithUs to 66746
SAMHSA has additional resources on dealing with disaster at the SAMHSA website.
For More Information
• CDC’s Mass Casualties: Related Links web page.
• CDC’s Public Health Resources: State Health Departments, a state health department website locator
• CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control website, Injury and Violence Prevention Control.
The Disaster Preparedness Task Force was formed in 2002 in order to study the role of MedChi in Disaster Preparedness for the State of Maryland. The task set forth was to develop recommendations for preparing Maryland physicians and other practitioners for public health disasters, including terrorist actions, and for utilizing MedChi and other professional organizations toward that end and coordinating physician efforts with voluntary professional agencies. In 2006, the task force became a standing MedChi Committee.
Summary of Recommendations adopted at the September 2010 House of Delegates Meeting:
The recommendations developed by the committee to assure that MedChi continues to play a role in disaster preparedness in the state are as follow:
1. MedChi should monitor information and keep physicians informed in a disaster or public health emergency utilizing FRED and a liaison relationship with the DHMH to receive information and email/facsimile lists to disseminate it. MedChi should conduct drills at least annually to test and evaluate the effectiveness of these communication links.
2. MedChi should update its web site for disaster preparedness information and education.
3. MedChi should encourage and promote Basic Disaster Life Support (BDLS) and Advanced Disaster Life Support (ADLS) training and promote additional educational opportunities for physician education in the realm of disaster preparedness.
4. MedChi should promote enrollment in the MPVC and educational opportunities in disaster preparedness in its publications and at its Annual Meeting.
5. MedChi should encourage physicians to join Maryland’s formal organized volunteer programs.
6. MedChi should study the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Act, compare it to current law, and make recommendations for additional liability protections for physicians who provide care during disasters.
For more information on Emergency Preparedness, please contact:
Shayna Banfield, M.S., CHES
Director of Programs
Center for a Healthy Maryland
Phone: 410-539-0872 or 800-492-1056, ext. 3341