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Bangladesh is repeatedly threatened by tropical storms and cyclones, exposing one-third of the total population of the country. As a preparedness measure, several cyclone shelters have been constructed, yet a large proportion of the coastal population, especially women, are unwilling to use them. Existing studies have demonstrated a range of concerns that discourage women from evacuating and have explored the limitations of the shelters, but the experiences of female evacuees have not been apparent in these stories. This study explores the lived-experiences of women in the cyclone shelters of Bangladesh and discusses their health and well-being as evacuees in the shelters. Nineteen women from three extremely vulnerable districts of coastal Bangladesh were interviewed. Seven research themes were identified from the participants’ narratives using van Manen’s thematic analysis process. The most salient theme, being understood (as a woman), portrayed the quintessential image of these women, which subsequently influenced their vulnerability as evacuees. The next themes–being a woman during crisis, being in a hostile situation, being fearful, being uncertain, being faithful, and being against the odds–focused on the incidents they lived through which affected their physical and mental health and the emotions they felt as evacuees. The paper offers a deep inquiry into women’s experiences of well-being in the shelters and recognizes the significance of women’s voices to improve their experiences as evacuees.
A substantial body of research exists regarding vicarious trauma (VT) exposure among helping professionals across disciplines and settings. There is limited research, however, on exposure to VT in qualitative researchers studying traumatized populations. The objective of this study was to explore the experiences of qualitative researchers who study traumatized populations and to identify potential protective strategies for reducing the risk of VT.
The study utilized a qualitative methodological design. Focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted using a semi-structured script. Thematic analysis was conducted to identify both risk factors and protective factors associated with VT. A sample of 58 research participants were recruited using a multimodal recruitment strategy.
Using thematic analysis, the following key themes emerged: exposure to primary trauma, the impact of stigma, organizational context, individual context, and research context. The opportunity for posttraumatic growth was also identified.
Qualitative researchers of traumatized populations need to recognize the potential for VT and implement appropriate protection strategies from the risk of VT. The development of policies and guidelines that recognize the importance of both self-care and plan for researcher safety and well-being is a potential strategy for building researcher resilience and preventing VT.
Globally, women are considered to be more vulnerable during disasters. South Asia including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal experience many disasters, and are also ranked lowest on the gender equality index. Women of these countries tend to face many health challenges while staying at evacuation centers after disasters.
This study highlights the health challenges South Asian women face while staying in evacuation centers after disasters.
A narrative review was conducted using the keywords, “women after disaster,” “evacuation centers,” and “emergency health care.” Literature identified from the references were also added until reaching saturation. 47 articles were obtained through Elsevier, Google Scholar, Scopus, and ProQuest.
Women in shelters in South Asian countries experienced many health challenges including genito-urinary tract infections (studies from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), increased maternal mortality (Nepal and Pakistan), and sexual assault with resulting unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV (Nepal). Factors that contributed were the unavailability of separate toilets, inadequate sanitation, lack of sanitary supplies, and inadequate childbirth and maternity care resources. Rape victims at the shelters of Myanmar received delayed medical treatments, causing long-term health complications. Post-disaster stress and trauma were evident among women at the shelters initiated by insecurity, fear of abuse, and unfair relief distribution.
Women face certain challenges when staying in evacuation shelters in South Asian countries, which impacts their wellbeing after disasters. It is important to recognize women’s special requirements and to preserve women’s rights while developing disaster preparedness strategies. Socio-cultural perspectives of the disaster-prone areas should be considered at the policy planning level to ensure an effective and practical health-safety system. Additionally, further research focusing on women’s wellbeing at the evacuation centers is required to inform and overcome health challenges faced by women living in the shelters.
The Australian prehospital profession has not yet facilitated a comprehensive discussion regarding paramedic role and responsibility during disasters. Whether paramedics have a duty to treat under extreme conditions and what acceptable limitations may be placed on such a duty require urgent consideration. The purpose of this research is to encourage discussion within the paramedic profession and broader community on this important ethical and legal issue.
The authors employed qualitative methods to gather paramedic and community member perspectives in Victoria, Australia.
These findings suggested that both paramedic and community member participants agree that acceptable limitations on paramedic duty to treat during disaster are required. These limitations should be based on consideration of the following factors: personal health circumstances (eg, pregnancy for female paramedics); pre-existing mental health conditions (eg, posttraumatic stress disorder/PTSD); competing personal obligations (eg, paramedics who are single parents); and unacceptable levels of personal risk (eg, risk of exposure and infection during a pandemic).
It is only with the engagement of a more broadly representative segment of the prehospital profession and greater Australian community that appropriate guidance on limiting standards of care under extreme conditions can be developed and integrated within prehospital care in Australia.
SmithE, BurkleFM Jr., GebbieK, FordD, BensimonC. Acceptable Limitations on Paramedic Duty to Treat During Disaster: A Qualitative Exploration. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2018;33(5):466–470.
Disasters place unprecedented demands on emergency medical services and can test paramedics personal commitment as health care professionals. Despite this challenge, guidelines and codes of ethics are largely silent on the issue, providing little to no guidance on what is expected of paramedics or how they ought to approach their duty to treat in the face of risk. The objective of this research is to explore how paramedics view their duty to treat during disasters.
The authors employed qualitative methods to gather Australian paramedic perspectives.
Our findings suggest that paramedic decisions around duty to treat will largely depend on individual perception of risk and competing obligations. A code of ethics for paramedics would be useful, but ultimately each paramedic will interpret these suggested guidelines based on individual values and the situational context.
Coming to an understanding of the legal issues involved and the ethical-social expectations in advance of a disaster may assist paramedics to respond willingly and appropriately. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2019;13:191–196)
The International Council of Nurses (ICN; Geneva, Switzerland) and the World Association for Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM; Madison, Wisconsin USA) joined together in 2014 to review the use of the ICN Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies. The existing ICN Framework (version 1.10; dated 2009) formed the starting point for this review. The key target audiences for this process were members of the disaster nursing community concerned with pre-service education for professional nursing and the continuing education of practicing professional nurses. To minimize risk in the disaster nursing practice, competencies have been identified as the foundation of evidence-based practice and standard development. A Steering Committee was established by the WADEM Nursing Section to discuss how to initiate a review of the ICN Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies. The Steering Committee then worked via email to develop a survey to send out to disaster/emergency groups that may have nurse members who work/respond in disasters. Thirty-five invitations were sent out with 20 responses (57%) received. Ninety-five percent of respondents knew of the ICN Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies, with the majority accessing these competencies via the Internet. The majority of those who responded said that they make use of the ICN Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies with the most common use being for educational purposes. Education was done at a local, national, and international level. The competencies were held in high esteem and valued by these organizations as the cornerstone of their disaster education, and also were used for the continued professional development of disaster nursing. However, respondents stated that five years on from their development, the competencies also should include the psychosocial elements of nurses caring for themselves and their colleagues. Additionally, further studies should explore if there are other areas related to the disaster nursing practice (in addition to psychosocial concerns) that may be missing or not fully developed. Finally, the authors of this report recommend that future research explore how the ICN Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies do or do not assist in maintaining best practices in this field and improve outcomes for victims of disaster.
HuttonA, VeenemaTG, GebbieK. Review of the International Council of Nurses (ICN) Framework of Disaster Nursing Competencies. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2016;31(6):680–683.
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)
An extraordinary number of health care quality and patient safety indicators have been developed for hospitals and other health care institutions; however, few meaningful indicators exist for comprehensive assessment of hospital emergency management. Although health care institutions have invested considerable resources in emergency management preparedness, the need for universally accepted, evidence-based performance metrics to measure these efforts remains largely unfulfilled. We suggest that this can be remediated through the application of traditional health care quality paradigms, coupled with novel analytic approaches to develop meaningful performance data in hospital emergency management. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2009;3:57–60)
The filing of criminal charges against a group of clinicians in New Orleans for failure to meet expected standards of care following the hurricanes of 2005 made the growing concern among health professionals about care provided during extreme emergencies or disasters all too real. Questions about what may lead to censure, penalties from licensing boards, or lawsuits have come from nurses, physicians, and many other licensed health professionals. A panel convened by the American Nurses Association that included representatives of medical, public health, hospital, and government agencies considered the ethical, professional, and practical aspects of meeting standards of care in such circumstances. Clinicians are reminded that in emergencies, it is only the circumstances that change (perhaps radically); neither the individual’s professional competency nor the basic professional standard of care is different. In making prioritized decisions under such circumstances, the individual’s ethical framework is utilitarian, and there are 3 areas for action, even when some routine tasks are set aside: maintain worker and patient safety; maintain airway, breathing, and circulation; and establish or maintain infection control. Policy recommendations such as state legislation for the adoption of comprehensive immunity for volunteer health care workers, and the establishment of a medical review panel as arbitration board are also suggested. The resulting white paper summarizes the issues and provides guidance to individual professionals, institutions in which they work, and emergency planners. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2009;3:111–116)
Among the many components of legal preparedness for public health emergencies is the assurance that the public health workforce and its private sector partners are competent to use the law to facilitate the performance of essential public health services and functions. This is a significant challenge. Multiple categories of emergencies, stemming from natural disasters to emerging infectious diseases, confront public health practitioners. Interpreting, assessing, and applying legal principles during emergencies are complicated by the changing legal environment and differences in governmental organization of emergency management functions. While law and legal competencies are essential to routine public health practices, once government declares a state of public health emergency or disaster, the legal landscape changes. Typical legal responses to protect the public's health may no longer be the norm. Public health practitioners, legal counsel, health care partners, and others need to be able to assess changing laws and policies and apply them in real-time.
This paper is one of the four interrelated action agenda papers resulting from the National Summit on Public Health Legal Preparedness (Summit) convened in June 2007 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and multi-disciplinary partners. Each of the action agenda papers deals with one of the four core elements of legal preparedness: laws and legal authorities; competency in using those laws; and coordination of law-based public health actions; and information.
This action agenda offers options for consideration by those responsible for or interested in ensuring that public health professionals, their legal counsels, and relevant partners understand the legal framework in which they operate and are competent in applying legal authorities to public health emergency preparedness.
Competencies are critical to an individual's ability to make effective legal response to all-hazards public emergencies.
Public health agencies have been participating in emergency preparedness exercises for many years. A poorly designed or executed exercise, or an unevaluated or inadequately evaluated plan, may do more harm than good if it leads to a false sense of security, and results in poor performance during an actual emergency. At the time this project began, there were no specific standards for the public health aspects of exercises and drills, and no defined criteria for the evaluation of agency performance in public health.
The objective of this study was to develop defined criteria for the evaluation of agency performance.
A Delphi panel of 26 experts in the field participated in developing criteria to assist in the evaluation of emergency exercise performance, and facilitate measuring improvement over time. Candidate criteria were based on the usual parts of an emergency plan and three other frameworks used elsewhere in public health or emergency response.
The response rate from the expert panel for Delphi Round I was 74%, and for Delphi Round II was 55%. This final menu included 46 public health-agency level criteria grouped into nine categories for use in evaluating an emergency drill or exercise at the local public health level.
Use of the public health-specific criteria developed through this process will allow for specific assessment and planning for measurable improvement in a health agency over time.
Protecting the public's health has recently regained prominence in political and public discussions. Threats of bioterrorism following September 11, 2001 and the deliberate dissemination of anthrax later that fall, the reemergence of novel or resurgent infectious diseases, (such as the West Nile Virus, SARS, influenza, avian flu) and rapid increases in diseases associated with sedentary lifestyles, poor diets, and smoking (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancer) have all raised the profile of public health. The U.S. government has responded with increased funding, reorganization, and new policies for the population's health, safety, and security. Politicians and the public more clearly understand the importance of law in improving the public's health. Recognizing that many public health laws have not been meaningfully reformed in decades, law- and policy-makers and public health practitioners have focused on the legal foundations for public health. Laws provide the mission, functions, and powers of public health agencies, set standards for their (and their partners’) actions, and safeguard individual rights.