202513 Role of informal networks in disaster response

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Darcy Ravndal, RN, MPH , School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins, Baltimore, MD
Jaime Corvin, PhD , Global Health, Univeristy of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Lauren Anne Harris, BA , Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Naheed Ahmed, BA , Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Christine Wolfe, MPH , Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
By most standards, the 2004 hurricane season was the most devastating in Florida's history. Four hurricanes crossed the state in five weeks, causing 47 deaths and costing nearly $50 billion in damage. Nearly 1.7 million people were forced to evacuate their homes and response was difficult due to the ongoing nature of the events. Many are still dealing with economic and physical repercussions. Although different in size and scope from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, both disasters saw the emergence of new and/or expanded roles for both formal and informal public health response, particularly at the local level, and the integration of these networks as part of standard mitigation efforts. Data suggests that citizens affected by disasters are an effective force for response and recovery with minimal time, training and financial investment. Following a catastrophic event, the time it takes for outside assistance to arrive necessitates the involvement of victims in their own rescue, effectively making them “first responders.” Those directly affected are in a position to identify areas of concern in the disaster zone and the most effective use of resources. Additionally, participation in relief efforts will better prepare communities for future disasters. Outcomes will be used to prepare formal responders for the involvement of informal efforts and to maximize the power and efficiency of those in volunteer and informal response networks among various subpopulations. Data is being used to guide the development of tools, training programs, and workshops to meet the needs of those involved in disaster response.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the genesis of informal response networks during a catastrophic event. Evaluate the effectiveness of informal networks in emergency response, recovery, and mitigation efforts. Discuss the role of informal networks in serving the needs of invisible and neglected populations such as migrant farmworkers and those special needs.

Keywords: Community Response, Community Participation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PACER Program Coordinator at the University of South Florida Center for Biological Defense, Tampa, FL. Graduate student of nursing at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, Baltimore, MD.
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.