Tag Archives: emergency preparedness

Have a plan before tragic news breaks, Las Vegas reporter says

Susan Heavey

About Susan Heavey

Susan Heavey, (@susanheavey) a Washington, D.C.-based journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on social determinants of health and curates related material at healthjournalism.org. She welcomes questions and suggestions on resources and tip sheets at determinants@healthjournalism.org.

Rachel Crosby, a metro reporter for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, reviewed her Twitter feed from her coverage of the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas as part of her talk for Health Journalism 2018. The panel, “Finding organization in the chaos of mass violence,” offered a look at how journalists and health systems prepare and respond to mass tragedies.

Reporters everywhere increasingly must cover mass violence and other chaotic situations, and should make a plan before any news erupts, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Rachel Crosby told attendees at Health Journalism 2018.

Whether it’s a mass shooting, disease outbreak, natural disaster or other major event – take time now to figure out how your newsroom would report on it and how you can be best prepared, Crosby, a former crime reporter now on the metro desk, said at AHCJ’s annual conference in Phoenix. Continue reading

#ahcj13 speakers featured in news about Boston Marathon bombings

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

If you attended Health Journalism 2013, you heard from plenty of Boston-based medical professionals, some of whom are in the news now talking about the Boston Marathon bombings. You might remember hearing from:

Ron Medzon, M.D., led AHCJ members through the SIM lab part of one of the field trips and talked with attendees about doctors and nurses communicating with patients and families about medical errors. Medzon, emergency room physician at Boston Medical Center, was on duty when victims of the bombing began arriving. He talked about the experience with Robin Young of WBUR-Boston.

Paul Summergrad, M.D., chair of psychiatry at Tufts Medical Center, spoke about mental disorders at the conference, offers advice on how to care for the emotional wounds of the bombing in several articles:

And John Halamka, M.D., the chief information officer at, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, talked about communication and technology in the wake of the bombings in “Social media key in enabling quick provider response to Boston bombings,” by  Dan Bowman for FieceHealthIT. At the conference, he spoke about electronic health records.

Have you seen other panel speakers quoted in the news? If so, please let us know by posting links to the stories in the comments section.

Update: AHCJ member Naseem S. Miller, of Internal Medicine News Digital Network, interviewed Medzon and a doctor who was in the medical tent at the finish line about their experiences.

Update: AHCJ member Leana Wen writes on NPR’s Shots blog about treating patients in the aftermath of the bombing while wondering if the next patient she saw was going to be her husband.

Joplin hospital staff took action during disaster

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

If you haven’t already, take 90 seconds to read Tulsa World reporter Michael Overall’s brief, powerful account of how emergency preparedness translated to emergency action at the hospital caught in the center of the May tornado in Joplin, Mo.

joplin-hospital

Photo by Red Cross: Carl Manning GKCARC via Flickr

The staff had practiced severe weather drills and evacuations hundreds of times but, as one administrator told Oklahoma colleagues, “There’s no way you can plan for an F-5 tornado.” Nevertheless, Overall writes, the well-drilled staff of St. John’s hospital “evacuated all 183 patients in just 90 minutes with no major injuries,” a sentence you won’t appreciate until you read Overall’s narrative based on a hospital administrator’s talk at a conference for regional emergency workers.

For those of you looking for story ideas, you might look into local hospitals’ disaster plans. Have they really planned for every contingency? Certainly there are things no one can plan for, but it’s worth reading the story from this hospital and evaluating disaster plans with those events in mind.

For more, read AHCJ’s roundup and review of Joplin tornado coverage.

Is U.S. ready for Haiti-style mass casualty event?

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

The GAO’s latest release, “State Efforts to Plan for Medical Surge Could Benefit from Shared Guidance for Allocating Scarce Medical Resources (20-page PDF),” is the result of an evaluation of the nation’s medical capacity to deal with “mass casualty events,” a response they refer to as a “medical surge.” Read the one-page summary here. The release is a summary of a similarly titled 2008 report, but it has gained extra relevance in the light of the U.S. response to the similar circumstances of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

The report found that states were making good progress in developing bed reporting systems and coordinating with military and veterans hospitals, as well as in selecting alternate care sites and registering medical volunteers. It also noticed that they were lagging when it came to planning for altered standards of care.

Related

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What really happened at Memorial after Katrina?
AHCJ presentation: How prepared is your city for a health disaster? (Audio)
Protecting the Public’s Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism

S.C.: Pandemic plan handled H1N1, needs tweaking

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Joey Holleman at The State reviewed South Carolina’s reaction to H1N1 and what it revealed about the state’s pandemic preparedness. Holleman found that, on the whole, state officials and health professionals felt their pandemic preparations, put in place after scares such as SARS and H5N1, had worked well and proposed only minor adjustments to the overall plan.

AHCJ resourcesAHCJ resources for covering flu, pandemics and preparedness

Holleman said those specifics include detailing school closing plans, assigning responsibility for home-quarantined patients and adjusting hospital entry traffic to keep flu sufferers isolated. Apart from those details, the state’s plans appear to be working.

So far, the state has had 36 CDC-confirmed cases of H1N1 and no reported deaths. The cornerstones of S.C.’s response have been rapid stockpiling of necessary medications and materials and rapid education of both hospital staffs and the public. For the most part, officials said, the effort was not much different than previous efforts to contain other infectious diseases like chicken pox or whooping cough.