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Chapter 1 introduces the broad objective of the book. This is to show how history can be used to understand why biophysical shocks and hazards, sometimes leading to disasters, push societies in different directions – creating a diversity of possible social and economic outcomes. In order to understand this diversity, we need to look not only at institutional responses but also at the social actors behind these responses, who may have very different goals, not always equivalent to the ‘common good’. We illustrate how shocks and hazards, and the disasters that sometimes ensued, could thus have very diverse consequences not only between societies, but also within the same societies, between social groups, and across wealth, ethnic, and gender lines. In discussing these issues, the book goes back in time further than the modern period. Although the Industrial Revolution and associated new technologies brought momentous changes, these did not create a fundamental rift between the period before and after the Industrial Revolution, and we argue that the underlying mechanisms remained similar. After the outline of the intentions of this book, the chapter concludes with a survey of the fields of disaster studies, disaster history, and the relevant interpretative frameworks in historical research.
Human-induced climate change is increasing the likelihood and severity of wildfires across the globe. This has negative consequences for the health of affected communities through the loss of health systems’ infrastructure and disrupted health services. Community pharmacies are a central hub between patients and the health care system and can provide continuity of care during wildfires. However, there is little in peer-reviewed literature about the impacts of wildfires on community pharmacy operations.
The aim of this study was therefore to explore the impacts of the 2018/2019 summer bushfires in Tasmania, Australia on community pharmacy operations in affected areas.
Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with four community pharmacists who were working in the affected region during the bushfires. Interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. Qualitative data were analyzed using two methods– manual coding utilizing NVivo software and Leximancer analysis. Inter-rater reliability was ensured by two researchers analyzing the data independently. Differences in coding were discussed and agreement reached through negotiation amongst the research team.
From the manual coding analysis, five key themes emerged – communication and collaboration; support; patient health challenges; pharmacist experiences in delivering health care; and future planning. These aligned with the five themes that emerged from the Leximancer analysis – community; local; town; patients; and work. Participants described working during the wildfires as difficult, with multiple challenges reported including communication difficulties, operational barriers such as power cuts, legislative barriers, logistical issues with obtaining and storing medication supplies, and lack of preparation, support, and funding. They highlighted a lack of operational and financial support from the government and received most assistance from local council bodies and local branches of professional pharmacy organizations.
During disasters, community pharmacies help reduce the burden on public hospitals by maintaining medication supplies and treating patients with minor ailments. However, increased support and inclusion in disaster management planning is needed to continue this role.
This chapter describes the design, development, and implementation of the Cuban Children of Chernobyl Program from 1990 to 2011. This program reflected a model of specialized medical attention that fully incorporated psychological care alongside a multidisciplinary approach that follows the Cuban model of family medicine. A primary strength of the model is that the psychosocial aspect is considered central to crisis intervention. The chapter contends that the central activity of disaster response should involve psychological and social preparation at all levels and with all actors during each moment of the disaster reduction cycle.
The Chain of Survival in Industrial Emergencies and Disasters is similar to the cardiac arrest chain of survival of the American Heart Association (AHA) and the trauma chain of survival. It is a sequence of five inter-linked rings, which when practiced, decreases the mortality and morbidity in the concerned population. The first ring is Early Prevention, which should be a combined effort of healthcare professionals and industrial authorities. The second ring is Early Recognition. Industrial workers and surrounding communities should be equally trained in hazard and risk analysis along with vulnerability assessment. The third ring is Access to Care by the Early Response System, involving a universal emergency response number and early intervention by on-site trained medical professionals. This ring emphasizes the importance of a link with the surrounding communities, as they are the first responders and the front-line victims. The fourth ring is Early Advanced Care by EMS for transportation to hospitals or by Emergency Department personnel in referral hospitals. The fifth and the last ring is Early Rehabilitation, which includes integrated post emergency care, overall rehabilitation and early return to work. The key to successful implementation of Chain of Survival is to have identified components of care, training and quality monitoring. When practiced diligently, this could help prevent industrial disasters, and mitigate their harmful effects on occurrence.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic continues to be a devastating chapter in history. The consequences of the pandemic unfold daily and they extend beyond physical health. Current research suggests that it is a public mental health crisis. With regard to the physical effects of COVID-19, policy-makers have drawn from past experiences, such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak of 2003, to craft unique responses. A similar approach must be taken to address the mental health effects of the pandemic. Because COVID-19 can fit the definitions of a mental health disaster, it can be addressed using the principles of disaster mental health management. This letter to the editor presents arguments for defining COVID-19 as a mental health disaster, the challenges facing policy-makers in addressing it as such, and calls upon researchers to fill this gap in the literature.
Biological hazards are one of the most important and common types of hazards in emergencies and disasters. Hospital preparedness measures for biological hazards are essential for a proper response and mitigation of its effects. The aim of this systematic review is to investigate hospital preparedness measures for biological hazards.
For this research, electronic databases including Web of Science, PubMed, ScienceDirect, Scopus, ProQuest, Google Scholar, and Cochrane Library from March 1950 to June 2019 were searched. Key words such as hospital, emergency department, preparedness, plan, management, and biological hazards were used in combination with the Boolean operators OR and AND. A thematic synthesis approach through the use of MAXQDA software was applied to analyze the data.
In total, 5257 articles were identified, in which 23 articles meet the inclusion criteria for entering the process of final analysis. The findings showed three main administrative, specialized, and logistical issues regarding preparedness measures for biological hazards in hospitals.
Hospital preparedness for biological hazards is one of the most important hospital disaster plans. Results of this systematic review present valuable advice for policy-makers and hospital managers to prepare and enhance hospital performance against biological hazards.
Interdisciplinary public health solutions are vital for an effective coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) response and recovery. However, there is often a lack of awareness and understanding of the environmental health workforce connections and capabilities. In the United States, this is a foundational function of health departments and is the second largest public health workforce. The primary role is to protect the public from exposures to environmental hazards, disasters, and disease outbreaks. More specifically, this includes addressing risks relating to sanitation, drinking water, food safety, vector control, and mass gatherings. This profession is also recognized in the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019. Despite this, the profession is often not considered an essential service. Rapid integration into COVID-19 activities can easily occur as most are government employees and experienced working in complex and stressful situations. This role, for example, could include working with leaders, businesses, workplaces, and churches to safely reopen, and inspections to inform, educate, and empower employers, employees, and the public on safe actions. There is now the legislative support, evidence and a window of opportunity to truly enable interdisciplinary public health solutions by mobilizing the environmental health workforce to support COVID-19 response, recovery, and resilience activities.
The aim of this study was to assess strengths and challenges experienced by HIV/STD providers in providing care during the response to Hurricane Sandy (Sandy) in New York State, and their recommendations for future preparedness.
A mixed methods approach, including a focus group (n = 3), interviews (n = 3), and survey (n = 31) of HIV/STD providers, was used. Key words identified by means of open coding methodology from collected data were organized into strengths, challenges, and recommendations and then grouped into federal and study-associated preparedness capabilities.
Key words were organized into 81 strengths (38.8%), 73 challenges (34.9%), and 55 recommendations (26.3%). Services most interrupted during Sandy were related to HIV/STD outreach and education. While providers reported challenges with external agency communication, the ability to still connect clients to needed resources was reported as a strength. Strengthening partnerships with federal, state, and local agencies was among the major recommendations made by these providers.
This study presents unique information about challenges experienced by HIV/STD providers in providing services during a natural disaster and the use of national public health emergency preparedness capabilities to address and overcome those challenges. Lessons learned and recommendations regarding inter-agency communications emerged as an important priority during a natural disaster to minimize or reduce service interruption.
Flood is the most common natural hazard in Iran, which annually affects the environment and human lives. On March 25, 2019 in Shiraz-Iran, following a heavy rainfall, the occurrence of a flash flood caused an extensive number of deaths, injuries, and vehicle demolitions in a short time. Evidence suggests that man-made causes of the incident, including unsustainable urban development and lack of early warning services, have played a more influential role compared with its natural causes. This study has attempted to substantiate that understanding disaster risks, as the first priority of Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030, directly impacts the decisions and actions of policymakers, local authorities, and the public. To provide more safety, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction, attention should primarily be paid on making a cultural paradigm shift through providing sufficient training in developing appropriate disaster risk perception in the community at large.
This study sought to understand factors related to weather-related disaster survivors’ health information and mental health-care–seeking behaviors.
In November 2017, we conducted a quantitative survey of 170 Gulf Coast residents who experienced weather-related disasters. The survey assessed how individual and psychosocial factors affect health-care–seeking behavior.
Nearly 66% of participants reported a high frequency of depression and/or anxiety symptoms, yet only 39% saw a medical professional. Of participants who visited a medical professional, 76% sought information from nonmedical sources. Seeking medical care was strongly correlated with seeking information from nonmedical sources and previous healthcare experiences, but not with fear and stigma.
Positive communication and strong support systems have the potential to mitigate the reluctance people have in seeking help for mental health problems. Although it is discouraging that few people seek professional care, it is promising that participants were not avoiding care due to fear of being stigmatized. Less opposition to mental health care by survivors offers opportunity for mental health professionals to treat the psychological problems survivors experience. Providing necessary information may make headway to mental health care where it is greatly needed.
Throughout history, earthquakes have caused devastation and loss of life. Emergency medical services (EMS) plays a vital role in the response to any mass-casualty incident or disaster. Magen David Adom, Israel’s premier EMS organization, has a unique strategy known as the ABC approach to earthquake response. It involves thousands of salaried workers and trained volunteers who are prepared to respond to an earthquake based on the extent of the disaster. Depending on the amount of destruction, they will be working locally or available to help in other areas. A Level A earthquake causes local destruction and minimal casualties. Any EMS responders in that area as well as in surrounding areas will be available to help. Furthermore, all responders will need to work automatically and autonomously. A Level B earthquake causes extensive destruction, and all responders in the region will be busy caring for the victims. Anyone available outside of the region will come and help. A Level C earthquake is completely devastating, and all workers nationwide will be involved in responding to the catastrophe. The role of EMS responders using the ABC approach to earthquake response, as described here, may be integrated in part or whole in other EMS systems.
This paper focuses on the historical politics of disaster records in Chinese local gazetteers (difangzhi 地方志). Using records of mulberry crop failures as examples, the authors ask how gazetteer editors collated Yuan disaster records—initially collected to help prevent disasters and authorize the legitimacy of dynastic rule—in gazetteers and, in so doing, made them into ‘local’ knowledge. Digital humanities methods allow for both qualitative and quantitative analyses, and the authors deploy them to demonstrate how, in structured texts like the Chinese local gazetteers, they could help combine close reading of specific sections and larger-scale analysis of regional patterns. In the first part, the authors show how disasters were recorded in a Yuan Zhenjiang gazetteer to facilitate taxation and disaster prevention locally—a strategy rarely traceable in subsequent gazetteers until the Qing. In the second part, the authors shifted their perspective to the historical accumulation of data and what that reveals about the reception of Yuan disasters: whereas local gazetteers from the north generate long chronologies of mulberry disasters from the Ming to the Qing, others depict the south as disaster-free.
If foreign aid is provided primarily for strategic reasons, as much of the field finds, how can donor generosity following natural disasters be explained? This article addresses this puzzle by building on the literature in three ways. First, it differentiates between three major types of aid: humanitarian, civil society and development. Second, it demonstrates that natural disasters act as an exogenous shock to the strategic calculus that donor countries undertake when making foreign aid allocation decisions. Specifically, the authors argue that donor countries use natural disasters as opportunities to exert influence on strategic opponents through the allocation of humanitarian and civil society aid. However, donors still reserve development aid for strategic allies irrespective of the incidence of natural disasters. Third, the findings are substantiated using a new measure of strategic interest that accounts for the indirect ties states share and the multiple dimensions upon which they interact.
According to the stress inoculation hypothesis, successfully navigating life stressors may improve one's ability to cope with subsequent stressors, thereby increasing psychiatric resilience.
Among individuals with no baseline history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depressive disorder (MDD), to determine whether a history of a stressful life event protected participants against the development of PTSD and/or MDD after a natural disaster.
Analyses utilised data from a multiwave, prospective cohort study of adult Chilean primary care attendees (years 2003–2011; n = 1160). At baseline, participants completed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI), a comprehensive psychiatric diagnostic instrument, and the List of Threatening Experiences, a 12-item questionnaire that measures major stressful life events. During the study (2010), the sixth most powerful earthquake on record struck Chile. One year later (2011), the CIDI was re-administered to assess post-disaster PTSD and/or MDD.
Marginal structural logistic regressions indicated that for every one-unit increase in the number of pre-disaster stressors, the odds of developing post-disaster PTSD or MDD increased (OR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.08–1.37, and OR = 1.16, 95% CI 1.06–1.27 respectively). When categorising pre-disaster stressors, individuals with four or more stressors (compared with no stressors) had higher odds of developing post-disaster PTSD (OR = 2.77, 95% CI 1.52–5.04), and a dose–response relationship between pre-disaster stressors and post-disaster MDD was found.
In contrast to the stress inoculation hypothesis, results indicated that experiencing multiple stressors increased the vulnerability to developing PTSD and/or MDD after a natural disaster. Increased knowledge regarding the individual variations of these disorders is essential to inform targeted mental health interventions after a natural disaster, especially in under-studied populations.
Assisting the increasing number of tourists and foreign nationals exposed to crises situations in third countries—many of them far from home and extremely vulnerable—presents significant challenges. Despite the need to explore consular crisis management from an operational perspective, there are few studies that address the issue. This paper aims to describe the characteristics and context of consular crisis management operations based on personal experiences, scientific papers, grey literature, and key informant interviews.
Consular crisis management operations are conducted in a context where the stakeholders and the legal environment may differ from humanitarian or civil protection operations. The physical distance causes logistical challenges and demands specific considerations for both civilian and medical evacuation. Consular crisis management operations often include medical care, psychosocial support activities, and disaster victim identification (DVI) activities. Political and media interest may also add significant challenges to such operations. Therefore, specific knowledge, skills, and preparations are needed for both diplomatic crisis management professionals and health professionals. Further research on consular crisis management activities—as well as the concept of consular crisis management itself—is strongly needed.
Firefighting service is known to involve high rates of exposure to potentially traumatic situations, and research on mental health in firefighting populations is of critical importance in understanding the impact of occupational exposure. To date, the literature concerning prevalence of trauma-related mental disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has not distinguished between symptomology associated routine duty-related exposure and exposure to large-scale disaster. The present systematic review synthesizes a heterogeneous cross-national literature on large-scale disaster exposure in firefighters and provides support for the hypothesis that the prevalence of PTSD, major depressive disorder, and anxiety disorders are elevated in firefighters compared with rates observed in the general population. In addition, we conducted narrative synthesis concerning several commonly assessed predictive factors for disorder and found that sociodemographic factors appear to bear a weak relationship to mental disorder, while incident-related factors, such as severity and duration of disaster exposure, bear a stronger and more consistent relationship to the development of PTSD and depression in cross-national samples. Future work should expand on these preliminary findings to better understand the impact of disaster exposure in firefighting personnel.