Disaster Information Specialization Certification

I want to share some information about the Medical Library Association Disaster Information Specialization Program. I feel this is particularly important in that we live in an area subject to earthquakes. This program was established by the NLM to help familiarize librarians with resources and databases that are used in mitigating, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from disaster situations. The program has two levels and CE Units needed for this program may also be used to fulfill AHIP Certification Requirements.

Level One Certification requires completion of five mandated courses (15 contact hours). These courses cover: Disaster Health Information Sources, U.S. Response to Disasters, Information Roles in Disasters, The National Incident Management System, and An Introduction to the Incident Command System.

Level Two Certification requires an additional 12 contact hours chosen from a variety of topics, formats, and course providers.

In the last few years there has been a proliferation of information related to disaster management. Much of this information is available on the Internet. A variety of organizations including: government agencies, NGO’s, and other institutions have compiled these resources. This information is widely dispersed and sometimes difficult to locate. For librarians with little experience in this area, an excellent website to explore is the Disaster Information Management Research Center: http://disaster.nlm.nih.gov/ .This website contains information regarding disaster types, response tools, disaster literature, databases, meetings & conferences, and organizational listings.

A plethora of disaster programs, conferences, websites and other resources is available. These sources are promoted, described and discussed on the NLM Disaster List-serve. Interested individuals can subscribe to this free list-serve clicking on the following link: (http://disaster.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/dimrclistserv.html) and then submitting the required contact information.

Librarians are legally recognized as qualified professionals that are to be included in Disaster Response Teams. Learning more about disasters can help librarians promote our libraries both within our own institutions and in the larger community. Consider joining and becoming active members of the Hospital Safety Team. After joining a Hospital Safety Team, one may request membership in the California Health Alert Network (CAHAN). This governmental network provides disaster alerts, interagency communications, guideline dissemination, and training activities to first responders.

For those who have time, participating in the Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) is a great way to meet community emergency services personnel and discuss with them the rolls libraries might take in locating, retrieving, and organizing information needed in disaster response situations. This training is offered by local public safety agencies and credits earned are eligible for both AHIP & Disaster Information Specialization Certification. The initial training consists of 20 classroom hours plus a full day field exercise. Additional training is available after completion of the introductory classes. I am looking forward to taking this training in October 2013.

Attaining skills and resource information related to disasters could be extremely useful in a mini-disaster such as a water leak in our libraries. The most likely natural disaster in our area would be an earthquake. The most likely man-made disaster would be an active shooter scenario. (Training is available through local disaster exercises sponsored by the State Office of Emergency Services. One can inquire through your Hospital Safety Committee. Private companies also offer Active Shooter training).

I would urge members to think about formulating an emergency plan for their libraries. I would also urge them to think about communication issues. In disaster, cell phone communication is may be available when other forms of communication are disabled. Having a list of staff cell phone and email addresses could be extremely useful. It could be useful to share such information between organizations to enable mutual assistance between libraries when a disaster occurs.

Mike Liddicoat, M.L.I. S., AHIP
Senior Medical Librarian
El Camino Los Gatos Hospital

About Mike Liddicoat

Senior Medical Librarian El Camino Hospital Los Gatos
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