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Risk of suicide-related behaviors is elevated among military personnel transitioning to civilian life. An earlier report showed that high-risk U.S. Army soldiers could be identified shortly before this transition with a machine learning model that included predictors from administrative systems, self-report surveys, and geospatial data. Based on this result, a Veterans Affairs and Army initiative was launched to evaluate a suicide-prevention intervention for high-risk transitioning soldiers. To make targeting practical, though, a streamlined model and risk calculator were needed that used only a short series of self-report survey questions.
We revised the original model in a sample of n = 8335 observations from the Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Servicemembers-Longitudinal Study (STARRS-LS) who participated in one of three Army STARRS 2011–2014 baseline surveys while in service and in one or more subsequent panel surveys (LS1: 2016–2018, LS2: 2018–2019) after leaving service. We trained ensemble machine learning models with constrained numbers of item-level survey predictors in a 70% training sample. The outcome was self-reported post-transition suicide attempts (SA). The models were validated in the 30% test sample.
Twelve-month post-transition SA prevalence was 1.0% (s.e. = 0.1). The best constrained model, with only 17 predictors, had a test sample ROC-AUC of 0.85 (s.e. = 0.03). The 10–30% of respondents with the highest predicted risk included 44.9–92.5% of 12-month SAs.
An accurate SA risk calculator based on a short self-report survey can target transitioning soldiers shortly before leaving service for intervention to prevent post-transition SA.
To investigate the relative importance of 10 attributes identified in prior studies as essential for effective disaster medical responders and leaders.
Emergency and disaster medical response personnel (N=220) ranked 10 categories of disaster worker attributes in order of their importance in contributing to the effectiveness of disaster responders and leaders.
Attributes of disaster medical leaders and responders were rank ordered, and the rankings differed for leaders and responders. For leaders, problem-solving/decision-making and communication skills were the highest ranked, whereas teamwork/interpersonal skills and calm/cool were the highest ranked for responders.
The 10 previously identified attributes of effective disaster medical responders and leaders include personal characteristics and general skills in addition to knowledge of incident command and disaster medicine. The differences in rank orders of attributes for leaders and responders suggest that when applying these attributes in personnel recruitment, selection, and training, the proper emphasis and priority given to each attribute may vary by role. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:700–703)
To identify key attributes of effective disaster/mass casualty first responders and leaders, thereby informing the ongoing development of a capable disaster health workforce.
We surveyed emergency response practitioners attending a conference session, the EMS State of the Science: A Gathering of Eagles. We used open-ended questions to ask participants to describe key characteristics of successful disaster/mass casualty first responders and leaders.
Of the 140 session attendees, 132 (94%) participated in the survey. All responses were categorized by using a previously developed framework. The most frequently mentioned characteristics were related to incident command/disaster knowledge, teamwork/interpersonal skills, performing one’s role, and cognitive abilities. Other identified characteristics were related to communication skills, adaptability/flexibility, problem solving/decision-making, staying calm and cool under stress, personal character, and overall knowledge.
The survey findings support our prior focus group conclusion that important characteristics of disaster responders and leaders are not limited to the knowledge and skills typically included in disaster training. Further research should examine the extent to which these characteristics are consistently associated with actual effective performance of disaster response personnel and determine how best to incorporate these attributes into competency models, processes, and tools for the development of an effective disaster response workforce. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;page 1 of 4)
Large numbers of evacuees arrived in Dallas, Texas, from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita just 3 weeks apart in 2005 and from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike just 3 weeks apart again in 2008. The Dallas community needed to locate, organize, and manage the response to provide shelter and health care with locally available resources. With each successive hurricane, disaster response leaders applied many lessons learned from prior operations to become more efficient and effective in the provision of services. Mental health services proved to be an essential component. From these experiences, a set of operating guidelines for large evacuee shelter mental health services in Dallas was developed, with involvement of key stakeholders. A generic description of the processes and procedures used in Dallas that highlights the important concepts, key considerations, and organizational steps was then created for potential adaptation by other communities. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2015;9:423–429)
Since mid-2007 we have carried out a dedicated long-term monitoring programme at 15 GHz using the Owens Valley Radio Observatory 40 meter telescope (OVRO 40m). One of the main goals of this programme is to study the relation between the radio and gamma-ray emission in blazars and to use it as a tool to locate the site of high energy emission. Using this large sample of objects we are able to characterize the radio variability, and study the significance of correlations between the radio and gamma-ray bands. We find that the radio variability of many sources can be described using a simple power law power spectral density, and that when taking into account the red-noise characteristics of the light curves, cases with significant correlation are rare. We note that while significant correlations are found in few individual objects, radio variations are most often delayed with respect to the gamma-ray variations. This suggests that the gamma-ray emission originates upstream of the radio emission. Because strong flares in most known gamma-ray-loud blazars are infrequent, longer light curves are required to settle the issue of the strength of radio-gamma cross-correlations and establish confidently possible delays between the two. For this reason continuous multiwavelength monitoring over a longer time period is essential for statistical tests of jet emission models.
Disaster health workers currently have no common standard based on a shared set of competencies, learning objectives, and performance metrics with which to develop courses or training materials relevant to their learning audience. We examined how existing competency sets correlate within the 2012 pyramidal learning framework of competency sets in disaster medicine and public health criteria and describe how this exercise can guide curriculum developers.
We independently categorized 35 disaster health-related competency sets according to the 4 levels and criteria of the pyramidal learning framework of competency sets in disaster medicine and public health.
Using the hierarchical learning framework of competency sets in disaster medicine and public health criteria as guidance, we classified with consistency only 10 of the 35 competency sets.
The proposed series of minor modifications to the framework should allow for consistent classification of competency sets. Improved education and training of all health professionals is a necessary step to ensuring that health system responders are appropriately and adequately primed for their role in disasters. Revising the organizing framework should assist disaster health educators in selecting competencies appropriate to their learning audience and identify gaps in current education and training. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2014;8:70-78)
Objective: Several studies have provided prevalence estimates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks in broadly affected populations, although without sufficiently addressing qualifying exposures required for assessing PTSD and estimating its prevalence. A premise that people throughout the New York City area were exposed to the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) towers and are thus at risk for developing PTSD has important implications for both prevalence estimates and service provision. This premise has not, however, been tested with respect to DSM-IV-TR criteria for PTSD. This study examined associations between geographic distance from the 9/11 attacks on the WTC and reported 9/11 trauma exposures, and the role of specific trauma exposures in the development of PTSD.
Methods: Approximately 3 years after the attacks, 379 surviving employees (102 with direct exposures, including 65 in the towers, and 277 with varied exposures) recruited from 8 affected organizations were interviewed using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule/Disaster Supplement and reassessed at 6 years. The estimated closest geographic distance from the WTC towers during the attacks and specific disaster exposures were compared with the development of 9/11–related PTSD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, Text Revision.
Results: The direct exposure zone was largely concentrated within a radius of 0.1 mi and completely contained within 0.75 mi of the towers. PTSD symptom criteria at any time after the disaster were met by 35% of people directly exposed to danger, 20% of those exposed only through witnessed experiences, and 35% of those exposed only through a close associate’s direct exposure. Outside these exposure groups, few possible sources of exposure were evident among the few who were symptomatic, most of whom had preexisting psychiatric illness.
Conclusions: Exposures deserve careful consideration among widely affected populations after large terrorist attacks when conducting clinical assessments, estimating the magnitude of population PTSD burdens, and projecting needs for specific mental health interventions.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2011;5:S205-S213)
Effective preparedness, response, and recovery from disasters require a well-planned, integrated effort with experienced professionals who can apply specialized knowledge and skills in critical situations. While some professionals are trained for this, others may lack the critical knowledge and experience needed to effectively perform under stressful disaster conditions. A set of clear, concise, and precise training standards that may be used to ensure workforce competency in such situations has been developed. The competency set has been defined by a broad and diverse set of leaders in the field and like-minded professionals through a series of Web-based surveys and expert working group meetings. The results may provide a useful starting point for delineating expected competency levels of health professionals in disaster medicine and public health.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2012;6:44–52)
Background: Various organizations and universities have developed competencies for health professionals and other emergency responders. Little effort has been devoted to the integration of these competencies across health specialties and professions. The American Medical Association Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response convened an expert working group (EWG) to review extant competencies and achieve consensus on an educational framework and competency set from which educators could devise learning objectives and curricula tailored to fit the needs of all health professionals in a disaster.
Methods: The EWG conducted a systematic review of peer-reviewed and non–peer reviewed published literature. In addition, after-action reports from Hurricane Katrina and relevant publications recommended by EWG members and other subject matter experts were reviewed for congruencies and gaps. Consensus was ensured through a 3-stage Delphi process.
Results: The EWG process developed a new educational framework for disaster medicine and public health preparedness based on consensus identification of 7 core learning domains, 19 core competencies, and 73 specific competencies targeted at 3 broad health personnel categories.
Conclusions: The competencies can be applied to a wide range of health professionals who are expected to perform at different levels (informed worker/student, practitioner, leader) according to experience, professional role, level of education, or job function. Although these competencies strongly reflect lessons learned following the health system response to Hurricane Katrina, it must be understood that preparedness is a process, and that these competencies must be reviewed continually and refined over time. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2008;2:57–68)
Methods: An effective disaster response requires competent responders and leaders. The purpose of this study was to ask experts to identify attributes that distinguish effective from ineffective responders and leaders in a disaster. In this qualitative study, focus groups were held with jurisdictional medical directors for the 9-1-1 emergency medical services systems of the majority of the nation's largest cities. These sessions were recorded with audio equipment and later transcribed.
Results: The researchers identified themes within the transcriptions, created categories, and coded passages into these categories. Overall interrater reliability was excellent (κ = .8). The focus group transcripts yielded 138 codable passages. Ten categories were developed from analysis of the content: Incident Command System/Disaster Training/Experience, General Training/Experience, Teamwork/Interpersonal, Communication, Cognition, Problem Solving/Decision Making, Adaptable/Flexible, Calm/Cool, Character, and Performs Role. The contents of these categories included knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors, and personal characteristics.
Conclusions: Experts in focus groups identified a variety of competencies for disaster responders and leaders. These competencies will require validation through further research that involves input from the disaster response community at large.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:332-338)
This chapter reviews the role of journalists and news media during disasters, and the challenges they face as professional witnesses. It discusses reporters' risk and resiliency with respect to trauma-related psychopathology. News media can provide improvised mechanisms of communication that can help officials and survivors in the immediate aftermath of disaster. Most journalists receive no preparatory training in covering violence, interviewing victims, or experiencing the potential impact of traumatic stress on their own lives. Journalism educators now are showing growing interest in trauma-related curricula. As professional witnesses of trauma, reporters and staff are directly and indirectly exposed to events that qualify as traumatic stressors. Understanding journalists' symptomatic and attitudinal responses to covering traumatic stories, including risk and protective factors, is a vital area of continued study. Conceptual precision in research and analysis can help us understand more about the role and effects of media portrayal of tragedy on the public.