173876 Extending care to migrant farm workers in emergencies: Lessons learned from the San Diego fires of 2007

Monday, October 27, 2008

James DiFrancesca, MEd , Project Concern International, Washington DC, DC
The large-scale fires that swept through many rural and suburban areas of San Diego County in October 2007 tested the capacity of emergency and health services to extend support to local populations in crisis. While there were many successes--"reverse 911" evacuated hundreds of thousands of people and possibly averted a much greater human toll, for example--there were also clear areas for improvement, particularly in extending services to vulnerable populations including migrant farm workers and undocumented immigrants. These populations face unique legal, social, and logistical barriers to receiving services in emergencies that place them among the most vulnerable to adverse consequences of emergency situations. Project Concern International and the Farmworker CARE Coalition extended emergency and health services to migrant farm workers and undocumented immigrants during the fires and confronted many of these challenges. Lessons learned from their response and the results of their assessment of the health impacts of the fires on vulnerable populations will be presented. Recommended strategies for preparation for future emergency response will address the following key issues: notifying persons living in canyons and other vulnerable areas of imminent dangers; mobilizing farm owners to mitigate threats to the health and safety of migrant farm workers;coordinating methods of facilitating migrant access to emergency services among police, immigration, emergency shelter operators and others; addressing social, cultural and linguistic challenges in emergency situations; extending health services to affected families.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the unique legal, social, and logistical barriers to services faced by vulnerable populations, including migrant farm workers and undocumented immigrants, in emergencies 2. Analyze lessons learned from a case study of emergency services provision to vulnerable populations during the San Diego fires in October of 2007 3. Develop strategies to address key issues faced by vulnerable populations in emergencies

Keywords: Access and Services, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Director of Humanitarian Assistance for Project Concern International and directed the program to be presented.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.