Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Focus on Community Resilience

Cover: Focus on Community Resilience

A 2012 study by the RAND Corporation

Resilient communities prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural and man-made disasters. RAND has implemented and evaluated community resilience-building activities worldwide and identified opportunities to integrate governments with the nonprofit and for-profit sectors in public health and emergency preparedness, infrastructure protection, and development of economic recovery programs.

June 11, 2012 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

NLM Director’s Comments Transcript Rising Expectations for Emergency Response?: 04/18/2011

Picture of Dr. Lindberg

Rob Logan, Ph.D. senior staff National Library of Medicine for Donald Lindberg, M.D, the Director of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

Excerpts from the transcript

Many Americans have unexpectedly high expectations regarding the responsiveness of local agencies to messages sent using Twitter, Facebook, or phone texting during a natural or human disaster, the American Red Cross’ vice president for public relations recently told a Disaster Information Outreach Symposium at NLM.

Laura Howe told about 200 attendees at the recent two-day meeting (and we quote), ‘most of the public now expects someone (a local response agency) is listening’ (end of quote) when persons seek emergency assistance during a major disaster, such as a flood or a toxic spill.

In a survey conducted by the Red Cross, Howe said about 75 percent of respondents expected help to arrive with an hour after a request for emergency assistance is posted to the Internet, or texted via a mobile device. She said 28 percent of the survey’s 1000 respondents expected help to arrive within 15 minutes.

Howe added the Red Cross was surprised by the great expectations of the survey respondents. Howe asked the symposium’s attendees if they perceived respondent expectations were realistic – especially during a disaster when emergency medical technicians, fire fighters, and police officers handle numerous assistance requests.

Howe said the Red Cross and other response agencies accidentally might have elevated public expectations when agencies initiated direct interactive communication with citizens via social media services, such as Facebook or Twitter. She explained an interactive relationship with a public health agency or institution and social media followers might be perceived as initiating a higher level of responsiveness.

Although Howe noted the Red Cross (in the U.S. and other nations) is not an emergency response agency, the Red Cross sometimes is contacted first (via text messages or social media) by impacted Americans (instead of calling ‘911’) during a natural or human disaster. A similar pattern is occurring in some other countries, she said….

In local and national emergencies during the past year, Howe added the Red Cross noticed sudden increases in the traffic on social media sites as persons reported deteriorating conditions within their residence or neighborhood. Howe asked and we quote: ‘where is the tipping point within social media (traffic) that impacts the delivery of neighborhood resources’ (end of quote)? Howe noted the Red Cross plus other response agencies need to better gauge how social media spikes suggest an appropriate level of response – in light of recent trends in social media use and higher public expectations.

In a related talk, Nicole Lurie, M.D., the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reinforced the need for improved tools or mechanisms to assess when social media traffic surges reveal a need for an immediate emergency response…..

….’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page explains preparing for disasters can reduce fear, anxiety and stress. The disaster preparation and recovery health topic page helps you anticipate emergency situations, such as explosions, floods, and volcanoes. Links to this information are available in the ‘overviews’ section of’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page.

A website from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (available in the ‘start here’ section of’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page) distinctively provides information about preparing for different types of natural disasters.

To find’s disaster preparation and recovery health topic page, type ‘disaster preparation’ in the search box on’s home page, then, click on ‘disaster preparation and recovery (National Library of Medicine).’

We also recommend’s health topic pages on first aid and coping with disasters……

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Consumer Health, Consumer Safety, Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Children and War

The Children and War Foundation was established in 2000 to “improve children’s lives after wars and disasters”.
The home page reflects current efforts, from the effect of trauma and stress on Palestinian children to a Disaster Bereavement Manual to rescue and acute efforts in Japan.
The toolbar Projects option leads to summaries of  current efforts in Africa, America, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
The foundation has developed a number of Measures to screen and quantify the effects of war, disaster and trauma on children.
For example, the Children’s Revised Impact of Event Scale is “a widely used screening tool measuring children at risk for post traumatic stress symptoms, and is designed to be used in children aged 8 and above. It has been applied in a variety of cultures as post traumatic stress symptoms in children are more similar than they are different from one culture to the other.”
On a more human level, the Stories link on the home page’s left column provides narratives of children caught up in wars and disasters, and given assistance by the foundation.
Elizabeth of Uganda was kidnapped and used as a slave by Ugandan government soldiers. Luay of Iraq was traumatized by carrying the dead out of bombed ruins.

May 1, 2011 Posted by | Professional Health Care Resources | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Year of Living Dangerously: A Review of Natural Disasters in 2010

A man, who lost relatives in the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, visits the mass grave site in Titanyen on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince March 21, 2011.

A man, who lost relatives in the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, visits the mass grave site in Titanyen on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince March 21, 2011.

The entire Brookings Report A Year of Living Dangerously: A Review of Natural Disasters in 2010 may be found here.

From the Web site

APRIL 2011 —

Almost 300 million people were affected by natural disasters in 2010. The large disasters provided constant headlines throughout the year, beginning with the devastating earthquake in Haiti followed one month later by the even more severe—but far less deadly—earthquake in Chile. In the spring, ash spewing from volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland paralyzed flights for weeks in the northern hemisphere. Early summer witnessed the worst Russian wildfires in history while a few months later, the steadily rising floodwaters in Pakistan covered 20 percent of the country. In sum, it was a terrible year in terms of natural disasters causing havoc and destruction around the globe. However, many of the largest disasters barely made headlines in the Western press….

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

BioEd Online: Japanese Earthquake and Tsunamis, Before and After

BioEd Online is an online educational resource for teachers, parents, students, and others.
The tool bar at the home page includes links to presentations, slide sets, classroom lessons, teacher resources, hot topics and more.
The current feature (hot topic) focuses on the earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan, particularly the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 natural disasters. Instructional materials include how satellite images are used in recovery efforts, a slide set of “before” and “after” Japanese scenes and news items.
On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck northeastern Japan. In addition to the destruction caused by the earthquake and aftershocks, related tsunamis devastated miles of the Japanese coastline. Several nuclear power plants were damaged, leading to potentially serious health risks for tens of thousands of people.
Links are also given to background information, as

April 9, 2011 Posted by | Educational Resources (High School/Early College( | , , , , | Leave a comment

Development of protocols for future disasters urgently called for

Flooded I-10/I-610 interchange and surrounding...

Image via Wikipedia

Development of protocols for future disasters urgently called for

From the April 6, 2011 Science Daily article

Dr. Howard Osofsky, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, is an author of a review article published in the April 7, 2011 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine*** that urgently calls for the development of protocols to deal with the health effects of disasters — before the next one occurs.

One year after the largest and most devastating oil spill in United States history, the magnitude of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil Spill on human health, the environment, and the economy remains unknown. Along with the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attack and Hurricane Katrina, this most recent US catastrophe underscores both the lack of knowledge about long-term effects as well as the need for better plans to improve interventions and services to deal with the consequences of such crises.

The article reports what is currently known about the toxicologic consequences of exposures in the Gulf Oil Spill as well as what is known from other spills. However, the authors note the complexity of assessing the full effects of exposures due to the presence of all five elements of a complete exposure pathway, multiple sources of contaminants, and multiple points of exposure. As well, a disproportionately large under-lying disease burden in the population of the Gulf States makes it particularly vulnerable to environmental and natural disasters. The authors report documented symptoms among some 52,000 responders from a number of sources, including self-identified health problems. Additionally, vulnerability to heat stress in the high summer temperatures in the Gulf compounded by personal protective equipment also contributed to health risks, particularly among inexperienced volunteers.

Of particular concern are the mental health symptoms among response workers and community members after oil disasters……

***Not yet online [ April 7, 2011 ]

Resources/Further Reading

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Home (disaster) preparedness

From a GMR listserv posting (US National Libraries of Medicine- Greater Midwest Region)

Hi everyone,

Do any of you stress home preparedness in your disaster planning,
especially for those staff on the response team? (We do to a point, but
probably not enough.) Do you know who has an emergency generator?
Four-wheel drive? Do you know where they live and how accessible they are
to a major road? I’m asking these questions because I heard them last
night when I attended a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) meeting
that was convened for members interested in manning our county’s 979-INFO
line, which is activated following a disaster for non life-threatening

By the way, I found this handy calculator
( from What If?
Colorado. You can use it to build a 72-hour home emergency preparedness


Dan Wilson, MLS
Assoc. Dir. for Collection Management & Access Services
Coordinator, NN/LM National Emergency Preparedness & Response Initiative
University of Virginia Health Sciences Library
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

NN/LM Emergency Preparedness & Response Toolkit


November 16, 2010 Posted by | Finding Aids/Directories | , , , , | Leave a comment


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