California Medical Association

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Disaster Preparedness

How to Get Involved Ahead of Time: Disaster Response Opportunities for Medical Professionals

In the event of a disaster, having an adequate number of trained health care providers available to pitch in can mean the difference between a successful response and a system overwhelmed by acute patient needs. As a physician, there are several ways you can become involved with public health disaster preparedness and response, ranging from local to national opportunities. Choosing the level of response that is right for you depends on the amount of time you are willing and able to give to preparedness training, your ability to travel on short notice, and your own personal and family preparedness plans and obligations. Below we highlight some local programs and resources for physicians to get involved and stay up to date.

Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV)

A central challenge to using medical volunteers in times of a disaster is the ability to confirm the credentials and identity of the volunteer. California has developed the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV) Program to facilitate and manage the registration, credentialing, and deployment of volunteer healthcare professionals.  DHV uses a software system to manage communication, notifications, and credentialing needs of volunteers. There are over 40 different types of health care volunteers that can register using the DHV system. The DHV Program is a single source system operated and administered by local, regional, and state public health and emergency medical services agencies.

Click here to register for the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV) Program.

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)

MRC units are community-based and function as a way to locally organize and use volunteers who want to donate their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to emergencies. MRC volunteers supplement existing emergency and public health resources and are, first and foremost, a local asset. Local plans for a Medical Reserve Corps are administered by the San Francisco Fire Department. Currently MRC volunteers undergo training through the Neighborhood Emergency Response Program (NERT). The core skills for trained volunteers include: triage and light treatment, personal preparedness, ICS, and terrorism awareness. 

Click here to learn more about the San Francisco Medical Reserve Corps. 

Health Alerts

The San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) sends out Health Alerts, Advisories, and Updates regarding communicable disease outbreaks, immunization updates, and emerging infectious diseases to San Francisco clinicians.

SFMS posts the health alerts on sfms.org and notify physician members via our social media platforms in real-time. Clinicians can also sign-up or submit updated contact information to receive Health Alerts directly with SFDPH. All contact information is kept confidential. Click here to sign up for the SFDPH health alerts email list. 

For more information about public health emergency preparedness please contact San Francisco Public Health Emergency Preparedness & Response at phepr.dph@sfdph.org or (415) 558-5949.

I am a SFMS member because I believe—when I joined SFMS as a new doctor 25 years ago, and still believe now—that physicians need the advocacy of organized medicine to represent them and their patients with insurance companies, legislators, and public policy. The SFMS has often led the way with health initiatives that benefit our patients and our profession."

Toni Brayer, MD, CEO of Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation

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