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Special Issue "Preparedness and Emergency Response"

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A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2014)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Emmanuel Rudatsikira (Website)

School of Health Professions, Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI, USA
Interests: tobacco use; exposure to environmental tobacco smoke; violence; emergency preparedness and response; HIV/AIDS and adolescent health

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Each year, major emergencies, both natural and man-made, claim the lives of many people all around the world and inflict a heavy toll on the economy. While we have made progress in preparedness and emergency response in the last decades, much more needs to be done. Research priorities in preparedness and emergency response identified by the Institute of Medicine include: improving the identification of health vulnerabilities and evaluation interventions to lessen the risk of poor health outcomes; developing and evaluating integrated systems of emergency public health services and incident management; developing and evaluating strategies and tools to train and exercise the public workforce to meet the responsibilities for detection, mitigation, and recovery in varied settings and populations; evaluation characteristics of effective risk communication in emergency settings and system enhancements to improve effective information exchange across diverse partners and populations under emergency conditions; scenario modeling and forecasting; and information and management tools to improve the availability and usefulness during crisis decision-making. This issue will highlight new approaches that have been applied or are under development to improve preparedness and emergency response.  Research papers, analytical reviews, case studies, conceptual framework, and policy-relevant articles are solicited.

Prof. Dr. Emmanuel Rudatsikira
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • emergency preparedness
  • disaster management
  • bioterrorism
  • chemical emergencies
  • natural disasters
  • outbreaks
  • mass casualties
  • radiation emergencies
  • war and terrorism

Published Papers (20 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle A Two-Stage Approach for Medical Supplies Intermodal Transportation in Large-Scale Disaster Responses
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(11), 11081-11109; doi:10.3390/ijerph111111081
Received: 30 June 2014 / Revised: 15 October 2014 / Accepted: 17 October 2014 / Published: 27 October 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (525 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We present a two-stage approach for the “helicopters and vehicles” intermodal transportation of medical supplies in large-scale disaster responses. In the first stage, a fuzzy-based method and its heuristic algorithm are developed to select the locations of temporary distribution centers (TDCs) and [...] Read more.
We present a two-stage approach for the “helicopters and vehicles” intermodal transportation of medical supplies in large-scale disaster responses. In the first stage, a fuzzy-based method and its heuristic algorithm are developed to select the locations of temporary distribution centers (TDCs) and assign medial aid points (MAPs) to each TDC. In the second stage, an integer-programming model is developed to determine the delivery routes. Numerical experiments verified the effectiveness of the approach, and observed several findings: (i) More TDCs often increase the efficiency and utility of medical supplies; (ii) It is not definitely true that vehicles should load more and more medical supplies in emergency responses; (iii) The more contrasting the traveling speeds of helicopters and vehicles are, the more advantageous the intermodal transportation is. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Evaluation of Resident Evacuations in Urban Rainstorm Waterlogging Disasters Based on Scenario Simulation: Daoli District (Harbin, China) as an Example
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(10), 9964-9980; doi:10.3390/ijerph111009964
Received: 2 July 2014 / Revised: 3 September 2014 / Accepted: 9 September 2014 / Published: 26 September 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (919 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
With the acceleration of urbanization, waterlogging has become an increasingly serious issue. Road waterlogging has a great influence on residents’ travel and traffic safety. Thus, evaluation of residents’ travel difficulties caused by rainstorm waterlogging disasters is of great significance for their travel [...] Read more.
With the acceleration of urbanization, waterlogging has become an increasingly serious issue. Road waterlogging has a great influence on residents’ travel and traffic safety. Thus, evaluation of residents’ travel difficulties caused by rainstorm waterlogging disasters is of great significance for their travel safety and emergency shelter needs. This study investigated urban rainstorm waterlogging disasters, evaluating the impact of the evolution of such disasters’ evolution on residents’ evacuation, using Daoli District (Harbin, China) as the research demonstration area to perform empirical research using a combination of scenario simulations, questionnaires, GIS spatial technology analysis and a hydrodynamics method to establish an urban rainstorm waterlogging numerical simulation model. The results show that under the conditions of a 10-year frequency rainstorm, there are three street sections in the study area with a high difficulty index, five street sections with medium difficulty index and the index is low at other districts, while under the conditions of a 50-year frequency rainstorm, there are five street sections with a high difficulty index, nine street sections with a medium difficulty index and the other districts all have a low index. These research results can help set the foundation for further small-scale urban rainstorm waterlogging disaster scenario simulations and emergency shelter planning as well as forecasting and warning, and provide a brand-new thought and research method for research on residents’ safe travel. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle A Conceptual Framework to Measure Systems’ Performance during Emergency Preparedness Exercises
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(9), 9712-9722; doi:10.3390/ijerph110909712
Received: 29 July 2014 / Revised: 10 September 2014 / Accepted: 11 September 2014 / Published: 17 September 2014
PDF Full-text (468 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Large-scale public health emergencies require a sophisticated, coordinated response involving multiple entities to protect health and minimize suffering. However, the rarity of such emergencies presents a barrier to gathering observational data about the effectiveness of the public health response before such events [...] Read more.
Large-scale public health emergencies require a sophisticated, coordinated response involving multiple entities to protect health and minimize suffering. However, the rarity of such emergencies presents a barrier to gathering observational data about the effectiveness of the public health response before such events occur. For this reason, public health practitioners increasingly have relied on simulated emergencies, known as “exercises” as proxies to test their emergency capabilities. However, the formal evaluation of performance in these exercises, historically has been inconsistent, and there is little research to describe how data acquired from simulated emergencies actually support conclusions about the quality of the public health emergency response system. Over the past six years, we have designed and evaluated more than seventy public health emergency exercises, collaborating with public health agencies, hospitals and others to test a wide variety of systems and their capabilities. Using the data and experience that we gathered, we have developed a conceptual framework that describes the essential elements necessary to consider when applying performance measurement science to public health emergency exercises. We suggest that this framework may assist practitioners and researchers who wish to better measure performance in exercises and to improve public health emergency preparedness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle The Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience Project — A Community-Level, Public Health Initiative to Build Community Disaster Resilience
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(8), 8475-8490; doi:10.3390/ijerph110808475
Received: 20 June 2014 / Revised: 24 July 2014 / Accepted: 14 August 2014 / Published: 19 August 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1141 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Public health officials need evidence-based methods for improving community disaster resilience and strategies for measuring results. This methods paper describes how one public health department is addressing this problem. This paper provides a detailed description of the theoretical rationale, intervention design and [...] Read more.
Public health officials need evidence-based methods for improving community disaster resilience and strategies for measuring results. This methods paper describes how one public health department is addressing this problem. This paper provides a detailed description of the theoretical rationale, intervention design and novel evaluation of the Los Angeles County Community Disaster Resilience Project (LACCDR), a public health program for increasing community disaster resilience. The LACCDR Project utilizes a pretest–posttest method with control group design. Sixteen communities in Los Angeles County were selected and randomly assigned to the experimental community resilience group or the comparison group. Community coalitions in the experimental group receive training from a public health nurse trained in community resilience in a toolkit developed for the project. The toolkit is grounded in theory and uses multiple components to address education, community engagement, community and individual self-sufficiency, and partnerships among community organizations and governmental agencies. The comparison communities receive training in traditional disaster preparedness topics of disaster supplies and emergency communication plans. Outcome indicators include longitudinal changes in inter-organizational linkages among community organizations, community member responses in table-top exercises, and changes in household level community resilience behaviors and attitudes. The LACCDR Project is a significant opportunity and effort to operationalize and meaningfully measure factors and strategies to increase community resilience. This paper is intended to provide public health and academic researchers with new tools to conduct their community resilience programs and evaluation research. Results are not yet available and will be presented in future reports. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Effects and Risk Evaluation of Oil Spillage in the Sea Areas of Changxing Island
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(8), 8491-8507; doi:10.3390/ijerph110808491
Received: 12 May 2014 / Revised: 30 June 2014 / Accepted: 1 August 2014 / Published: 19 August 2014
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (879 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper evaluated the oil spillage risk in the waters near the island of Changxing in Dalian (China) based on the established risk assessment index. Four wind regimes (windless, northerly wind, westerly wind and southerly wind) were selected as weather conditions for [...] Read more.
This paper evaluated the oil spillage risk in the waters near the island of Changxing in Dalian (China) based on the established risk assessment index. Four wind regimes (windless, northerly wind, westerly wind and southerly wind) were selected as weather conditions for the dynamic prediction of oil drift. If an oil spill occurs near the Koumen (a place near the island of Changxing), the forecast and evaluation are conducted based on a three-dimensional mathematical model of oil spillage, and the results obtained show the scope of the affected area when winds from various directions are applied. The oil spillage would, under various conditions, flow into the northern and western sea area of Changxing Island Bay, namely the Dalian harbor seal National Nature Reserve, and create adverse effects on the marine ecological environment. The rationality of combining the established oil spillage risk comprehensive index system with model prediction is further confirmed. Finally, preventive measures and quick fixes are presented in the case of accidental oil spillages. The most effective method to reduce environment risk is to adopt reasonable preventive measures and quick fixes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Validation of a Framework for Measuring Hospital Disaster Resilience Using Factor Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(6), 6335-6353; doi:10.3390/ijerph110606335
Received: 1 April 2014 / Revised: 6 June 2014 / Accepted: 9 June 2014 / Published: 18 June 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (244 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Hospital disaster resilience can be defined as “the ability of hospitals to resist, absorb, and respond to the shock of disasters while maintaining and surging essential health services, and then to recover to its original state or adapt to a new one.” [...] Read more.
Hospital disaster resilience can be defined as “the ability of hospitals to resist, absorb, and respond to the shock of disasters while maintaining and surging essential health services, and then to recover to its original state or adapt to a new one.” This article aims to provide a framework which can be used to comprehensively measure hospital disaster resilience. An evaluation framework for assessing hospital resilience was initially proposed through a systematic literature review and Modified-Delphi consultation. Eight key domains were identified: hospital safety, command, communication and cooperation system, disaster plan, resource stockpile, staff capability, disaster training and drills, emergency services and surge capability, and recovery and adaptation. The data for this study were collected from 41 tertiary hospitals in Shandong Province in China, using a specially designed questionnaire. Factor analysis was conducted to determine the underpinning structure of the framework. It identified a four-factor structure of hospital resilience, namely, emergency medical response capability (F1), disaster management mechanisms (F2), hospital infrastructural safety (F3), and disaster resources (F4). These factors displayed good internal consistency. The overall level of hospital disaster resilience (F) was calculated using the scoring model: F = 0.615F1 + 0.202F2 + 0.103F3 + 0.080F4. This validated framework provides a new way to operationalise the concept of hospital resilience, and it is also a foundation for the further development of the measurement instrument in future studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Engaging a Chemical Disaster Community: Lessons from Graniteville
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(6), 5684-5697; doi:10.3390/ijerph110605684
Received: 13 February 2014 / Revised: 25 April 2014 / Accepted: 21 May 2014 / Published: 27 May 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (225 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Community engagement remains a primary objective of public health practice. While this approach has been adopted with success in response to many community health issues, it is rarely adopted in chemical disaster response. Empirical research suggests that management of chemical disasters focuses [...] Read more.
Community engagement remains a primary objective of public health practice. While this approach has been adopted with success in response to many community health issues, it is rarely adopted in chemical disaster response. Empirical research suggests that management of chemical disasters focuses on the emergency response with almost no community engagement for long-term recovery. Graniteville, an unincorporated and medically underserved community in South Carolina was the site of one of the largest chlorine exposures by a general US population. Following the immediate response, we sought community participation and partnered with community stakeholders and representatives in order to address community-identified health and environmental concerns. Subsequently, we engaged the community through regular town hall meetings, harnessing community capacity, forming coalitions with existing local assets like churches, schools, health centers, and businesses, and hosting community-wide events like health picnics and screenings. Information obtained from these events through discussions, interviews, and surveys facilitated focused public health service which eventually transitioned to community-driven public health research. Specific outcomes of the community engagement efforts and steps taken to ensure sustainability of these efforts and outcomes will be discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Flood Disaster Risk Assessment of Rural Housings — A Case Study of Kouqian Town in China
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(4), 3787-3802; doi:10.3390/ijerph110403787
Received: 23 December 2013 / Revised: 10 March 2014 / Accepted: 21 March 2014 / Published: 3 April 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2335 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Floods are a devastating kind of natural disaster. About half of the population in China lives in rural areas. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the flood disaster risk of rural housings. The results are valuable for guiding the rescue and relief [...] Read more.
Floods are a devastating kind of natural disaster. About half of the population in China lives in rural areas. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the flood disaster risk of rural housings. The results are valuable for guiding the rescue and relief goods layout. In this study, we take the severe flood disaster that happened at Kouqian Town in Jilin, China in 2010 as an example to build an risk assessment system for flood disaster on rural housings. Based on the theory of natural disaster risk formation and “3S” technology (remote sensing, geography information systems and global positioning systems), taking the rural housing as the bearing body, we assess the flood disaster risk from three aspects: hazard, exposure and vulnerability. The hazard presented as the flood submerging range and depth. The exposure presented as the values of the housing and the property in it. The vulnerability presented as the relationship between the losses caused by flood and flood depth. We validate the model by the field survey after the flood disaster. The risk assessment results highly coincide with the field survey losses. This model can be used to assess the risk of other flood events in this area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Nurses’ Competencies in Disaster Nursing: Implications for Curriculum Development and Public Health
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(3), 3289-3303; doi:10.3390/ijerph110303289
Received: 12 February 2014 / Revised: 13 March 2014 / Accepted: 14 March 2014 / Published: 20 March 2014
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (732 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore Hong Kong nurses’ perceptions of competencies required for disaster nursing. Focus group interviews and written inquiry were adopted to solicit nurses’ perceived required competencies for disaster care. A total of 15 nurses were interviewed [...] Read more.
The purpose of this study was to explore Hong Kong nurses’ perceptions of competencies required for disaster nursing. Focus group interviews and written inquiry were adopted to solicit nurses’ perceived required competencies for disaster care. A total of 15 nurses were interviewed and 30 nurses completed the written inquiry on their perceived competencies related to disaster nursing. The International Council for Nurses’ (ICN) framework of disaster nursing competencies, consisting of four themes and ten domains, was used to tabulate the perceived competencies for disaster nursing reported by nurses. The most mentioned required competencies were related to disaster response; with the ethical and legal competencies for disaster nursing were mostly neglected by nurses in Hong Kong. With the complexity nature of disasters, special competencies are required if nurses are to deal with adverse happenings in their serving community. Nurses’ perceived disaster nursing competencies reported by nurses were grossly inadequate, demonstrating the needs to develop a comprehensive curriculum for public health. The establishment of a set of tailor-made disaster nursing core competencies for the community they served is the first step in preparing nurses to deal with disastrous situations for the health of the public. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Can Merging the Roles of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Management Increase the Efficiency and Effectiveness of Emergency Planning and Response?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(3), 2911-2921; doi:10.3390/ijerph110302911
Received: 7 February 2014 / Revised: 25 February 2014 / Accepted: 26 February 2014 / Published: 10 March 2014
PDF Full-text (539 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Some jurisdictions have reduced workforce and reallocated responsibilities for public health preparedness and emergency management to more efficiently use resources and improve planning and response. Key informant interviews were conducted in six counties in North Carolina (USA) to discuss perceptions of the [...] Read more.
Some jurisdictions have reduced workforce and reallocated responsibilities for public health preparedness and emergency management to more efficiently use resources and improve planning and response. Key informant interviews were conducted in six counties in North Carolina (USA) to discuss perceptions of the challenges and opportunities provided by the new shared positions. Respondents feel that planning and response have improved, but that requirements related to activities or equipment that are eligible for funding (particularly on the public health side) can present an impediment to consolidating public health preparedness and emergency management roles. As the financial resources available for public health preparedness and emergency management continue to be reduced, the merging of the roles and responsibilities of public health preparedness and emergency management may present jurisdictions with an effective alternative to reducing staff, and potentially, readiness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Modelling Mass Casualty Decontamination Systems Informed by Field Exercise Data
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(10), 3685-3710; doi:10.3390/ijerph9103685
Received: 21 May 2012 / Revised: 2 October 2012 / Accepted: 10 October 2012 / Published: 16 October 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (899 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the event of a large-scale chemical release in the UK decontamination of ambulant casualties would be undertaken by the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS). The aim of this study was to track the movement of volunteer casualties at two mass decontamination [...] Read more.
In the event of a large-scale chemical release in the UK decontamination of ambulant casualties would be undertaken by the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS). The aim of this study was to track the movement of volunteer casualties at two mass decontamination field exercises using passive Radio Frequency Identification tags and detection mats that were placed at pre-defined locations. The exercise data were then used to inform a computer model of the FRS component of the mass decontamination process. Having removed all clothing and having showered, the re-dressing (termed re-robing) of casualties was found to be a bottleneck in the mass decontamination process during both exercises. Computer simulations showed that increasing the capacity of each lane of the re-robe section to accommodate 10 rather than five casualties would be optimal in general, but that a capacity of 15 might be required to accommodate vulnerable individuals. If the duration of the shower was decreased from three minutes to one minute then a per lane re-robe capacity of 20 might be necessary to maximise the throughput of casualties. In conclusion, one practical enhancement to the FRS response may be to provide at least one additional re-robe section per mass decontamination unit. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
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Open AccessArticle Prediction of Unmet Primary Care Needs for the Medically Vulnerable Post-Disaster: An Interrupted Time-Series Analysis of Health System Responses
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(10), 3384-3397; doi:10.3390/ijerph9103384
Received: 31 May 2012 / Revised: 6 September 2012 / Accepted: 17 September 2012 / Published: 25 September 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (636 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Disasters serve as shocks and precipitate unanticipated disturbances to the health care system. Public health surveillance is generally focused on monitoring latent health and environmental exposure effects, rather than health system performance in response to these local shocks. The following intervention study [...] Read more.
Disasters serve as shocks and precipitate unanticipated disturbances to the health care system. Public health surveillance is generally focused on monitoring latent health and environmental exposure effects, rather than health system performance in response to these local shocks. The following intervention study sought to determine the long-term effects of the 2005 chlorine spill in Graniteville, South Carolina on primary care access for vulnerable populations. We used an interrupted time-series approach to model monthly visits for Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions, an indicator of unmet primary care need, to quantify the impact of the disaster on unmet primary care need in Medicaid beneficiaries. The results showed Medicaid beneficiaries in the directly impacted service area experienced improved access to primary care in the 24 months post-disaster. We provide evidence that a health system serving the medically underserved can prove resilient and display improved adaptive capacity under adverse circumstances (i.e., technological disasters) to ensure access to primary care for vulnerable sub-groups. The results suggests a new application for ambulatory care sensitive conditions as a population-based metric to advance anecdotal evidence of secondary surge and evaluate pre- and post-health system surge capacity following a disaster. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
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Open AccessArticle Assessing Disaster Preparedness among Latino Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers in Eastern North Carolina
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(9), 3115-3133; doi:10.3390/ijerph9093115
Received: 9 July 2012 / Revised: 6 August 2012 / Accepted: 17 August 2012 / Published: 30 August 2012
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (281 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and fires often involve substantial physical and mental impacts on affected populations and thus are public health priorities. Limited research shows that vulnerable populations such as the low-income, socially isolated migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFW) [...] Read more.
Natural disasters including hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, and fires often involve substantial physical and mental impacts on affected populations and thus are public health priorities. Limited research shows that vulnerable populations such as the low-income, socially isolated migrant and seasonal farmworkers (MSFW) are particularly susceptible to the effects of natural disasters. This research project assessed the awareness, perceived risk, and practices regarding disaster preparedness and response resources and identified barriers to utilization of community and government services during or after a natural disaster among Latino MSFWs’ and their families. Qualitative (N = 21) focus groups (3) and quantitative (N = 57) survey methodology was implemented with Latino MSFWs temporarily residing in rural eastern North Carolina to assess perceived and actual risk for natural disasters. Hurricanes were a top concern among the sample population, many participants shared they lacked proper resources for an emergency (no emergency kit in the house, no evacuation plan, no home internet, a lack of knowledge of what should be included in an emergency kit, etc.). Transportation and language were found to be additional barriers. Emergency broadcasts in Spanish and text message alerts were identified by the population to be helpful for disaster alerts. FEMA, American Red Cross, local schools and the migrant clinic were trusted places for assistance and information. In summary, tailored materials, emergency alerts, text messages, and news coverage concerning disaster threats should be provided in the population’s native language and when feasible delivered in a culturally appropriate mechanism such as “charlas” (talks) and brochures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Epidemiologic Methods Lessons Learned from Environmental Public Health Disasters: Chernobyl, the World Trade Center, Bhopal, and Graniteville, South Carolina
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(8), 2894-2909; doi:10.3390/ijerph9082894
Received: 18 June 2012 / Revised: 18 July 2012 / Accepted: 8 August 2012 / Published: 16 August 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (219 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Background: Environmental public health disasters involving hazardous contaminants may have devastating effects. While much is known about their immediate devastation, far less is known about long-term impacts of these disasters. Extensive latent and chronic long-term public health effects may occur. Careful [...] Read more.
Background: Environmental public health disasters involving hazardous contaminants may have devastating effects. While much is known about their immediate devastation, far less is known about long-term impacts of these disasters. Extensive latent and chronic long-term public health effects may occur. Careful evaluation of contaminant exposures and long-term health outcomes within the constraints imposed by limited financial resources is essential. Methods: Here, we review epidemiologic methods lessons learned from conducting long-term evaluations of four environmental public health disasters involving hazardous contaminants at Chernobyl, the World Trade Center, Bhopal, and Graniteville (South Carolina, USA). Findings: We found several lessons learned which have direct implications for the on-going disaster recovery work following the Fukushima radiation disaster or for future disasters. Interpretation: These lessons should prove useful in understanding and mitigating latent health effects that may result from the nuclear reactor accident in Japan or future environmental public health disasters. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Use of After Action Reports (AARs) to Promote Organizational and Systems Learning in Emergency Preparedness
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(8), 2949-2963; doi:10.3390/ijerph9082949
Received: 18 May 2012 / Revised: 3 July 2012 / Accepted: 8 August 2012 / Published: 16 August 2012
Cited by 17 | PDF Full-text (98 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many public health and healthcare organizations use formal knowledge management practices to identify and disseminate the experiences gained over time. The “lessons-learned” approach is one such example of knowledge management practice applied to the wider concept of organizational learning. In the field [...] Read more.
Many public health and healthcare organizations use formal knowledge management practices to identify and disseminate the experiences gained over time. The “lessons-learned” approach is one such example of knowledge management practice applied to the wider concept of organizational learning. In the field of emergency preparedness, the lessons-learned approach stands on the assumption that learning from experience improves practice and minimizes avoidable deaths and negative economic and social consequences of disasters. In this project, we performed a structured review of AARs to analyze how lessons learned from the response to real-incidents may be used to maximize knowledge management and quality improvement practices such as the design of public health emergency preparedness (PHEP) exercises. We chose as a source of data the “Lessons Learned Information Sharing (LLIS.gov)” system, a joined program of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security DHS and FEMA that serves as the national, online repository of lessons learned, best practices, and innovative ideas. We identified recurring challenges reported by various states and local public health agencies in the response to different types of incidents. We also strived to identify the limitations of systematic learning that can be achieved due to existing weaknesses in the way AARs are developed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Effects of Natural Disaster Trends: A Case Study for Expanding the Pre-Positioning Network of CARE International
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(8), 2863-2874; doi:10.3390/ijerph9082863
Received: 4 June 2012 / Revised: 16 July 2012 / Accepted: 6 August 2012 / Published: 14 August 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (485 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The increasing number of natural disasters in the last decade necessitates the increase in capacity and agility while delivering humanitarian relief. A common logistics strategy used by humanitarian organizations to respond this need is the establishment of pre-positioning warehouse networks. In the [...] Read more.
The increasing number of natural disasters in the last decade necessitates the increase in capacity and agility while delivering humanitarian relief. A common logistics strategy used by humanitarian organizations to respond this need is the establishment of pre-positioning warehouse networks. In the pre-positioning strategy, critical relief inventories are located near the regions at which they will be needed in advance of the onset of the disaster. Therefore, pre-positioning reduces the response time by totally or partially eliminating the procurement phase and increasing the availability of relief items just after the disaster strikes. Once the pre-positioning warehouse locations are decided and warehouses on those locations become operational, they will be in use for a long time. Therefore, the chosen locations should be robust enough to enable extensions, and to cope with changing trends in disaster types, locations and magnitudes. In this study, we analyze the effects of natural disaster trends on the expansion plan of pre-positioning warehouse network implemented by CARE International. We utilize a facility location model to identify the additional warehouse location(s) for relief items to be stored as an extension of the current warehouse network operated by CARE International, considering changing natural disaster trends observed over the past three decades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Perspectives of Community- and Faith-Based Organizations about Partnering with Local Health Departments for Disasters
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(7), 2293-2311; doi:10.3390/ijerph9072293
Received: 1 June 2012 / Revised: 19 June 2012 / Accepted: 20 June 2012 / Published: 28 June 2012
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (82 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Public health emergency planners can better perform their mission if they develop and maintain effective relationships with community- and faith-based organizations in their jurisdictions. This qualitative study presents six themes that emerged from 20 key informant interviews representing a wide range of [...] Read more.
Public health emergency planners can better perform their mission if they develop and maintain effective relationships with community- and faith-based organizations in their jurisdictions. This qualitative study presents six themes that emerged from 20 key informant interviews representing a wide range of American community- and faith-based organizations across different types of jurisdictions, organizational types, and missions. This research seeks to provide local health department public health emergency planners with tools to assess and improve their inter-organizational community relationships. The themes identified address the importance of community engagement, leadership, intergroup dynamics and communication, and resources. Community- and faith-based organizations perceive that they are underutilized or untapped resources with respect to public health emergencies and disasters. One key reason for this is that many public health departments limit their engagement with community- and faith-based organizations to a one-way “push” model for information dissemination, rather than engaging them in other ways or improving their capacity. Beyond a reprioritization of staff time, few other resources would be required. From the perspective of community- and faith-based organizations, the quality of relationships seems to matter more than discrete resources provided by such ties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Incident and Emergency Medical Services Management from a Regional Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(7), 2266-2282; doi:10.3390/ijerph9072266
Received: 22 May 2012 / Revised: 18 June 2012 / Accepted: 20 June 2012 / Published: 26 June 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (569 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Traffic crashes and other emergencies have impacts on traffic operations in transportation networks, often resulting in non-recurring congestion. Congestion, in turn, may impede the ability of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to provide timely response to those in need of medical attention. The [...] Read more.
Traffic crashes and other emergencies have impacts on traffic operations in transportation networks, often resulting in non-recurring congestion. Congestion, in turn, may impede the ability of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to provide timely response to those in need of medical attention. The work in this paper investigated the impact of incidents of varying severity and duration on transportation network performance in the Birmingham (AL, USA) area. The intensity and extent of the impact over space and time were assessed on the basis of average speeds. The analysis of incident scenarios was performed using the Visual Interactive System for Transport Algorithms (VISTA) platform. Moreover, first responders’ travel times to the scene of the incident were collected to identify best units for responding, in an effort to improve current dispatching practices. Finally, a secondary incident on the EMS to the hospital was considered to further demonstrate the superiority of Dynamic Traffic Assignment (DTA) over traditional static assignment methods in capturing dynamically changing traffic conditions. The study findings are expected to benefit local transportation planners, traffic engineers, emergency responders, and policy makers by allowing them to assess various response strategies to major incidents and emergencies and select the ones that minimize their potential impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Scenario Simulation-Based Assessment of Trip Difficulty for Urban Residents under Rainstorm Waterlogging
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(6), 2057-2074; doi:10.3390/ijerph9062057
Received: 20 April 2012 / Revised: 21 May 2012 / Accepted: 23 May 2012 / Published: 31 May 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (723 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this study, an experiment was performed to assess the trip difficulty for urban residents of different age groups walking in various depths of water, and the data were corroborated with the real urban rainstorm waterlogging scenarios in downtown (Daoli district) [...] Read more.
In this study, an experiment was performed to assess the trip difficulty for urban residents of different age groups walking in various depths of water, and the data were corroborated with the real urban rainstorm waterlogging scenarios in downtown (Daoli district) Ha-Erbin (China). Mathematical models of urban rainstorm waterlogging were constructed using scenario simulation methods, aided by the GIS spatial analysis technology and hydrodynamic analysis of the waterway systems in the study area. Then these models were used to evaluate the impact of waterlogging on the safety of residents walking in the affected area. Results are summarized as: (1) for an urban rainstorm waterlogging scenario reoccurring once every 10 years, three grid regions would have waterlogging above 0.5 m moving at a velocity of 1.5 m/s. Under this scenario, waterlogging would accumulate on traffic roads only in small areas, affecting the safety and mobility of residents walking in the neighborhood; (2) for an urban rainstorm waterlogging scenario reoccurring once every 20 years, 13 grids experienced the same waterlogging situation affecting a larger area of the city; (3) for an urban rainstorm waterlogging scenario reoccurring once every 50 years, 86 grid regions were affected (waterlogging above 0.5 m moving at 1.5 m/s), and those areas would become impassable for residents. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
Open AccessArticle Estimation of the Relative Severity of Floods in Small Ungauged Catchments for Preliminary Observations on Flash Flood Preparedness: A Case Study in Korea
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(4), 1507-1522; doi:10.3390/ijerph9041507
Received: 8 March 2012 / Revised: 31 March 2012 / Accepted: 6 April 2012 / Published: 18 April 2012
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (446 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
An increase in the occurrence of sudden local flooding of great volume and short duration has caused significant danger and loss of life and property in Korea as well as many other parts of the World. Since such floods usually accompanied by [...] Read more.
An increase in the occurrence of sudden local flooding of great volume and short duration has caused significant danger and loss of life and property in Korea as well as many other parts of the World. Since such floods usually accompanied by rapid runoff and debris flow rise quite quickly with little or no advance warning to prevent flood damage, this study presents a new flash flood indexing methodology to promptly provide preliminary observations regarding emergency preparedness and response to flash flood disasters in small ungauged catchments. Flood runoff hydrographs are generated from a rainfall-runoff model for the annual maximum rainfall series of long-term observed data in the two selected small ungauged catchments. The relative flood severity factors quantifying characteristics of flood runoff hydrographs are standardized by the highest recorded maximum value, and then averaged to obtain the flash flood index only for flash flood events in each study catchment. It is expected that the regression equations between the proposed flash flood index and rainfall characteristics can provide the basis database of the preliminary information for forecasting the local flood severity in order to facilitate flash flood preparedness in small ungauged catchments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: A Conceptual Framework to Measure Systems’ Performance during Emergency Preparedness Exercises
Authors: Elena Savoia, Foluso Agboola and Paul D. Biddinger
Abstract: Large-scale public health emergencies require a sophisticated, coordinated response involving multiple entities to protect health and minimize suffering. However, the rarity of such emergencies presents a barrier to gathering observational data about the effectiveness of the public health response before such events occur. For this reason, public health practitioners increasingly have relied on simulated emergencies, known as “exercises” as proxies to test their emergency capabilities. However, the formal evaluation of performance in these exercises, historically has been inconsistent, and there is little research to describe how data acquired from simulated emergencies actually support conclusions about the quality of the public health emergency response system. Over the past six years, we have designed and evaluated more than seventy public health emergency exercises, collaborating with public health agencies, hospitals and others to test a wide variety of systems and their capabilities. Using the data and experience that we gathered, we have developed a conceptual framework that describes the essential elements necessary to consider when applying performance measurement science to public health emergency exercises. We suggest that this framework may assist practitioners and researchers who wish to better measure performance in exercises and to improve public health emergency preparedness.

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