Just a quick note. We're here at the disaster psychiatry training at New York Methodist Hospital, in beautiful and trendy Park Slope, Brooklyn.
It is a one-day training, and it is going great. It has been some time since I've been at a training, and it is also a pleasure to lecture for the section on systems issues, media and risk communication, and medicolegal issues. The turn-out and level of interest is high, and it is invigorating to be involved.
This training is especially salient in light of DPO's upcoming Haiti missions (www.disasterpsych.org), and 3 psychiatrists who are leading-up both upcoming projects are here, Drs. Douglas, Squires, and Smyth - we are still looking for psychiatrists to volunteer, so please give doing so serious consideration. It is important work. I wish I could go myself, though circumstances preclude doing so.
It is important to bear in mind that there are many Haitians living abroad, and this is no exception in NYC. While it can be very interesting to travel to do disaster-work, it is equally interesting and important to be ready and willing to work locally.
I have updated both the File Cabinet and the Haiti updates section with new material pertaining to Haiti and mass casualty events, more generally - including the WHO January 2010 report on Haiti, the 2007 IASC guidelines, and the 5 Essential Elements of Mass Casuality paper. As with other disasters, aspects of working cross-culturally are highly important, as is the role of religion and spirituality in disaster response. With Haiti in particular, given the long relationship between Haiti and the U.S.A., there are and will be many interesting dynamics arising in the work.
The theme of the day is preparation, learning from lessons of prior work, and remembering that every disaster is unique. If you don't want to get caught off-guard, consider a disaster psychiatry training in your area, or at least gather together a like-minded group of colleagues and starting reading, talking and collaborating.
Question: How can we prevent disasters?