187104 Enhancing the Capacity of Emergency Managers to Respond to Hispanic Communities

Monday, October 27, 2008

Eduardo Cusicanqui, JD , Institute for Hispanic Health, National Council of La Raza, Washington, DC
Liany Elba Arroyo, MPH, CPH , Institute for Hispanic Health, National Council of La Raza, Washington, DC
Melissa Cristal Mercado-Crespo, MSc, MA , Institute for Hispanic Health, National Council of La Raza, San Juan, PR
Charles Kamasaki , Institute for Hispanic Health, National Council of La Raza, Washington, DC
Disasters such as the September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exposed deficiencies in the emergency preparedness and disaster response system to deal with Hispanic communities. In each of these events, preparedness and response efforts were hampered by the inability of government and disaster relief agencies to provide information and services in Spanish, a lack of understanding about relief eligibility guidelines by employees and volunteers, and the reluctance of Latinos to seek services. While emergency managers are charged with developing strategies to serve all populations, they have received little guidance on how to approach, and work with, this vulnerable community. Given the growth of the Latino community, the fact that there is no comprehensive strategy to address the special needs of this population undermines preparedness and relief efforts and presents a public health risk particularly within the context of a biological attack or infectious disease outbreak. To address this, the National Council of La Raza's Institute for Hispanic Health developed a tool kit for emergency managers. The tool kit, which was informed by a comprehensive literature review, focus group research with Latino immigrants, interviews with emergency managers and Latino stakeholders, and an advisory committee comprised of national and local disaster preparedness and relief experts, is designed to provide emergency managers with the resources necessary to effectively engage with the Latino community in their area. The tool kit provides resources and information to address the needs of Hispanics in the preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation phases of a disaster.

Learning Objectives:
1) Understand Latinos’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors regarding emergency disasters. 2) Increase awareness of the needs of Hispanics as it relates to emergency preparedness and response. 3) Learn about strategies to effectively engage the Hispanic community in the emergency preparedness and disaster response system.

Keywords: Latinos, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: of my experience working with the Latino community and my position coordinating my employer's response to emergency disasters.
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.