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Florida Department of Health Workers’ Response to 2004 Hurricanes: A Qualitative Analysis

  • Holly B. Herberman Mash (a1), Carol S. Fullerton (a1), Kathleen Kowalski-Trakofler (a2), Dori B. Reissman (a1), Ted Scharf (a3), James M. Shultz (a4) and Robert J. Ursano (a1)...

Abstract

Objective

Examinations of the demands on public health workers after disaster exposure have been limited. Workers provide emergency care while simultaneously risking injury, damage to personal property, and threats to their own and their family's safety. We examined the disaster management experiences of 4323 Florida Department of Health workers 9 months after their response to 4 hurricanes and 1 tropical storm during a 7-week period in August and September of 2004.

Methods

Participants completed a self-report questionnaire focused on work performance, mental and physical health, daily functioning, sleep disturbance, physiological arousal, and injury and work demand at the time of the hurricanes, and answered open-ended questions that described their experiences in more detail.

Results

A qualitative analysis conducted from the write-in data yielded 4 domains: (1) work/life balance; (2) training for disaster response role; (3) workplace support; and (4) recovery.

Conclusions

Study findings highlighted a number of concerns that are important to public health workers who provide emergency care after a disaster and, in particular, multiple disasters such as during the 2004 hurricane season. The findings also yielded important recommendations for emergency public health preparedness. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2013;0:1–7)

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Holly B. Herberman Mash, PhD, Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Psychiatry, 4301 Jones Bridge Rd, Bethesda, MD 20814 (e-mail: holly.herberman-mash.ctr@usuhs.edu).

References

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