An Opportunity: Improving Client Services during Disaster Relief
Helferich, Omar Keith, Griggs, John E., Journal of Environmental Health
Experience and research show that we must improve our response to catastrophic incidents regardless of their nature--natural disasters, emerging diseases such as avian influenza, or terrorist events. This commentary discusses in-field observations of responses to catastrophic incidents, reviews of after-action reports, and research funded by the Department of Homeland Security.
The authors believe that solutions exist that would allow improvements to be made in the provision of basic client services (e.g., sheltering, feeding, health care) following a catastrophic incident. Aside from the obvious issue of funding, support for incremental improvement from organizations such as NEHA and the American Red Cross is a necessity.
As assistant director of logistics operations for the American Red Cross (ARC), Dr. Helferich, a 15-year ARC volunteer, helped direct the logistics operations for the feeding and sheltering of Hurricane Katrina victims. This and other on-the-ground disaster recovery experience has provided insight regarding shortcomings and opportunities in the provision of basic client services.
Effective communication in the actual in-field situation remains a significant challenge: after Hurricane Katrina, phones were generally not operable, mobile phones were not dependable, and wireless technology was not available. Public needs and the availability of resources (e.g. food, water, housing, and health) are still often assessed and communicated via paper-based systems, which leads to inaccurate, inconsistent, and outdated information. Environmental health response teams collect necessary assessment data using clipboards, thus requiring the additional step of data entry upon returning to the response headquarters. This process increases errors and slows response to critical environmental health issues (e.g., contamination caused by general water pollution, mold, feces, chemical toxicity, oil, and pest …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: An Opportunity: Improving Client Services during Disaster Relief. Contributors: Helferich, Omar Keith - Author, Griggs, John E. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Environmental Health. Volume: 69. Issue: 4 Publication date: November 2006. Page number: 34+. © 1999 National Environmental Health Association. COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.