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NCDMPH Hosts Two-day Symposia on Crisis Leadership and Disaster Health Education

Four people (one female, three males) sit in leather chairs in front of a screen. The man closest to the front is gesturing with his hands mid sentence. Dr. Craig Goolsby with panelists discussing military-to-civilian transfer of knowledge in disaster medicine. (Image credit: David Arthur, Henry M. Jackson Foundation)
 By Vivian Mason

The United Nations reports that, “It is the combination of an exposed and ill-prepared population or community with a hazard event that results in a disaster. Education, therefore, has a vital role to play in preparing communities and building disaster-resilient societies and safe lives.”

But when disaster strikes, the time to prepare has passed. So, what should have been done? What can be done to prepare for future disasters?

The month of September is National Preparedness Month, and the Uniformed Services University’s (USU) National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH), in conjunction with USU’s      F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, sponsored a two-day event that helped to address those questions and more. Experts shared the latest information and research in emergency preparedness, disaster medicine, public health, emergency management, disaster response, crisis leadership, disaster preparedness, and disaster recovery.

The “Crisis Leadership in Disasters Symposium” was held on September 6, 2017, and “Disaster Health Education Symposium: Advancing the State of the Art” was held on September 7, 2017.  Both meetings were offered to a target audience of healthcare professionals; academia; associations; Federal, State, local, and tribal governments; and the military.

Crisis Leadership in Disasters Symposium

Two men, Ken Keen and Richard Thomas stand for a photo
Dr. Ken Keen and USU President Richard W. Thomas.
(Image credit: David Arthur, Henry M. Jackson Foundation)
Many leaders are inadequately prepared to meet the demands of leadership in a crisis. Therefore, in this symposium, experts explored crisis leadership training during disaster response. Dynamic keynote speaker Retired Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, associate dean for Leadership Development,at Emory University, shared his riveting experiences of earthquake response operations following the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Dr, Leonard Marcus, the co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at Harvard University, discussed the Meta-leadership Framework that was developed after “extensive research on and observation of leaders in high-stress, high-stakes situations.” He also added that, “We’re with leaders as they’re going through those crises and going through those responses. We learn from them and take what we learn from them and translate it into the curriculum. So that’s where meta-leadership came from and where swarm leadership [a phenomenon wherein no one is in charge, but all leaders follow the same rules to accomplish results] came from.” This framework is currently used by leaders in homeland security, emergency preparedness, emergency management and response, and public health.

Other prominent speakers participated in an interactive panel discussion on “Crisis Leadership in Practice” that was moderated by retired Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric Schoomaker, vice chair for Centers and Program’s in the SOM’s Department of Military and Emergency Medicine.

Disaster Health Education Symposium: Advancing the State of the Art

Leading experts gathered for a second day to focus on ways for creating and translating science and education to improve readiness. The presenters challenged the way attendees thought about disaster health education, potentially impacting the way they responded, taught, trained, and interacted with various communities. Discussions exhibited commonalities, thus leading to the conclusion that all the different disciplines and groups must work together to achieve effective results and solutions. Therefore, this kind of collaboration is absolutely necessary to improve national disaster research, science, and education. It is also vital that research be translated into significant practice.

Director of the NCDMPH, Thomas Kirsch, MD, MPH, FACEP, remarked,“….The National Center’s mission is to improve our Nation’s disaster health readiness through education and science. This symposium is about enhancing the collaboration between the academic and government communities to fulfill this mission and encourage our colleagues to work together.”

General sessions and breakout sessions focused on the following topics:

- The State of the Art in Disaster Science: Implications for Education
- Round Table: State of the Art in Practice
- Military‒Civilian Transfer of State-of-the-Art Knowledge
- Advancing Disaster Health Scholarship: Oral Abstract Presentations
- Disaster Health Training Needs Across the Spectrum; State, Local, and Tribal
- State-of-the-Art Use of Simulation in Disaster Medicine and Public Health

Dr. Goolsby leading the discussion for the military-to-civilian transfer of
knowledge in disaster medicine. (Image credit: David Arthur, Henry M.
Jackson Foundation)
Through these panel discussions and question-and-answering sessions, attendees explored how training and education helps increase public awareness, save lives, strengthen recovery from disasters and crises, and develop effective best public health practices for communities. In addition, the following points were examined:

- Innovative education methods and technology related to disaster medicine and public health
- Promising approaches, science, and practice for education and training in disaster medicine and public health
- Collaboration and networking among disaster medicine and public health professionals
- Implications of the latest practice and current research for disaster medicine and public health - learning and performance
- Identification of key areas for future research

Research poster abstracts were also on display in the Hall of Flags. The winners of the outstanding poster award was were as follows:

- Shayne Brannman, MS, MA, Jennifer Nieratko, MPH, CPH, Eric Goralnick, MD, MPH, John Hick, MD, Alicia Livinski, MPH, MA, and Ritu Sarin, MD, for their entry “The Best Disaster Medicine Literature of 2016”,
- Rachel L. Charney, MD, Rick S. Zimmerman, Ph.D., Joanne C. Langan, PhD, MSN, BSN, BS/Edu, RN, CNE, Keeta Holmes, Ed.D., Tener G. Veenema, PhD, MPH, MS, FAAN, Roberta Lavin, FNP-BC, PhD, FAAN, and Annah Bender, Ph.D, MSW, for their entry “"Personal Preparedness of Medical Professional Students and Program Administrators" and
- Mary C. Goetter, RN, PhD, NEA-BC for her entry “Disaster Response Preparedness and Training: A Capabilities Assessment of Asia Pacific Partners."

The oral abstract presenters were Jessie Pulsipher, MBA, Roberta P. Lavin, PhD, APRN-BC, and Perry Wiseman, RN, BSN, CEN.