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The US Veterans Health Administration’s Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System (DEMPS) is a team of employee disaster response volunteers who provide clinical and non-clinical staffing assistance when local systems are overwhelmed. This study evaluated attitudes and recommendations of the DEMPS program to understand the impact of multi-modal training on volunteer perceptions.
DEMPS volunteers completed an electronic survey in 2012 (n=2120). Three training modes were evaluated: online, field exercise, and face-to-face. Measures included: “Training Satisfaction,” “Attitudes about Training,” “Continued Engagement in DEMPS.” Data were analyzed using χ2 and logistic regression. Open-ended questions were evaluated in a manner consistent with grounded theory methodology.
Most respondents participated in DEMPS training (80%). Volunteers with multi-modal training who completed all 3 modes (14%) were significantly more likely to have positive attitudes about training, plan to continue as volunteers, and would recommend DEMPS to others (P-value<0.001). Some respondents requested additional interactive activities and suggested increased availability of training may improve volunteer engagement.
A blended learning environment using multi-modal training methods, could enhance satisfaction and attitudes and possibly encourage continued engagement in DEMPS or similar programs. DEMPS training program modifications in 2015 expanded this blended learning approach through new interactive online learning opportunities. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:744-751)
This study sought to understand facilitators and barriers faced by local US Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) emergency managers (EMs) when collaborating with non-VA entities.
Twelve EMs participated in semi-structured interviews lasting 60 to 90 minutes discussing their collaboration with non-VAMC organizations. Sections of the interview transcripts concerning facilitators and barriers to collaboration were coded and analyzed. Common themes were organized into 2 categories: (1) internal (ie, factors affecting collaboration from within VAMCs or by VA policy) and (2) external (ie, interagency or interpersonal factors).
Respondents reported a range of facilitators and barriers to collaboration with community-based agencies. Internal factors facilitating collaboration included items such as leadership support. An internal barrier example included lack of clarity surrounding the VAMC’s role in community disaster response. External factors noted as facilitators included a shared goal across organizations while a noted barrier was a perception that potential partners viewed a VAMC partnership with skepticism.
Federal institutions are important partners for the success of community disaster preparedness and response. Understanding the barriers that VAMCs confront, as well as potential facilitators to collaboration, should enhance the development of VAMC–community partnerships and improve community health resilience. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2018;12:431–436)
Few studies have focused on the mental health consequences of indirect exposure to disasters caused by naturally occurring hazards. The present study assessed indirect exposure to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti among Haitian-Americans now living in Miami; these subjects had no direct exposure to the earthquake, but retained their cultural identity, language, and connection to family and friends in Haiti.
Two months following the earthquake a sample of Haitian-Americans was surveyed inquiring about: (1) their psychological reactions to the quake; (2) types of exposures experienced by their family members and friends in Haiti; and (3) symptom levels of (a) major depression, (b) generalized anxiety disorder, (c) complicated grief, (d) mental health status, and (e) physical health status.
Haitian-Americans living in Miami experienced a broad spectrum of indirect exposures to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. These exposures were strongly associated with psychological distress, trauma-related mental health consequences, and diminished health status. Most notable was the multiplicity of indirect exposures to the on-scene experiences of multiple family members and friends in Haiti.
Consideration should be given to the psychological impact and needs for support among indirectly-exposed populations with strong affiliation to directly-impacted victims.
Shultz JM, Besser A, Kelly F, Allen A, Schmitz S, Hausmann V, Marcelin LH, Neria Y. Psychological consequences of indirect exposure to disaster due to the Haiti earthquake. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2012;27(4):1-10.
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