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Disaster research can inform effective, efficient, and evidence-based public health practices and decision making; identify and address knowledge gaps in current disaster preparedness and response efforts; and evaluate disaster response strategies. This study aimed to identify challenges and opportunities experienced by Washington State local health departments (LHDs) regarding engagement in disaster research activities.
An online survey was disseminated to the emergency preparedness representative for the 35 LHDs in Washington State. Survey questions sought to assess familiarity and experience with disaster research, as well as identify facilitators and barriers to their involvement. The survey was first piloted with 7 local and state public health emergency preparedness practitioners.
A total of 82.9% of Washington’s 35 LHDs responded to our survey. Only 17.2% of respondents had previous experience with disaster research. Frequently reported barriers to engaging in disaster research included funding availability, competing everyday priorities, staff capacity, and competing priorities during disaster response.
These findings can inform efforts to support disaster research partnerships with Washington State LHDs and facilitate future collaboration. Researchers and public health practitioners should develop relationships and work to incorporate disaster research into LHD planning, training, and exercises to foster practice-based disaster research capacity.
This study aimed to identify maritime transportation disruption impacts on available health care supplies and workers necessary to deliver hospital-based acute health care in geographically isolated communities post-disaster.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 key informants knowledgeable about the hospital-based acute health care supply chain and workforce emergency management plans and procedures in 2 coastal communities in British Columbia. These locations were accessed primarily through maritime transportation, including one urban center and one smaller, more remote community. Interview transcriptions were thematically analyzed.
Critical vulnerabilities to hospital-based acute health care delivery due to a maritime transportation disruption identified include lack of information about the existing supply chain, lack of formal plans and agreements, and limited local supply storage and workforce capacity. Measures to decrease vulnerability and enhance system capacity can be fostered to enhance acute health care system resilience for these and other geographically isolated communities.
A maritime transportation disruption has the potential to impact the availability of hospital-based health care supplies and health care personnel necessary to deliver acute health care in coastal communities post-disaster. Multisector engagement is required to address complex interdependencies and competing priorities in emergency response. Additional research and public-private collaboration is necessary to quantify potential impacts of maritime transportation disruption on the acute health care system. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:440-448)
We aimed to quantitatively gauge local public health workers’ perceptions toward disaster recovery role expectations among jurisdictions in New Jersey and Maryland affected by Hurricane Sandy.
An online survey was made available in 2014 to all employees in 8 Maryland and New Jersey local health departments whose jurisdictions had been impacted by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The survey included perceptions of their actual disaster recovery involvement across 3 phases: days to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years. The survey also queried about their perceptions about future involvement and future available support.
Sixty-four percent of the 1047 potential staff responded to the survey (n=669). Across the 3 phases, 72% to 74% of the pre-Hurricane Sandy hires knew their roles in disaster recovery, 73% to 75% indicated confidence in their assigned roles (self-efficacy), and 58% to 63% indicated that their participation made a difference (response efficacy). Of the respondents who did not think it likely that they would be asked to participate in future disaster recovery efforts (n=70), 39% indicated a willingness to participate.
The marked gaps identified in local public health workers’ awareness of, sense of efficacy toward, and willingness to participate in disaster recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy represent a significant infrastructural concern of policy and programmatic relevance. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:371–377)
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