HHS Strategic Plan, Fiscal Years 2007–2012 (Strategic Plan). People Affected by Disasters

11/22/2015

For victims of natural disasters, immediate priorities are access to water, food, shelter, medical care, and security. As individuals attempt to recover and rebuild their lives, they must also contend with stressors on their mental health, which can linger for weeks or months. Almost everyone who lives through disastrous events experiences feelings of sadness and depression. Depending on the individual, these feelings can vary in intensity and duration. This is true not only for the residents of the cities and towns devastated by natural disasters, but also for the thousands of rescue workers, emergency medical personnel, and disaster recovery experts engaged in search-and-rescue operations.

SAMHSA is focused on providing resources to aid in the recovery process, to assist both the people in areas damaged by natural disasters and the workers who are taking care of them. SAMHSA’s Disaster Technical Assistance Center helps ensure that our Nation is prepared and able to respond rapidly when events increase the need for trauma-related mental health and substance abuse services.

AoA offers a comprehensive set of technical assistance materials to help prepare and plan for the management of major emergencies or disaster events. AoA has developed a technical assistance guide, which includes many tools to assist those with the responsibility for the safety and continued independence of the Nation’s older population. The guide helps State agencies and local providers work through the intricate planning and collaborative efforts needed in an emergency. Using this guide, emergency teams will be ready to begin work immediately should a disaster or emergency occur.

The Office on Disability, in conjunction with ASPR and ACF’s Administration on Developmental Disabilities, has implemented and monitored the use of a disability-based toolkit, shelter assessment tool, and public health staff training modules. Together with the HIPAA Privacy decision tool for emergency preparedness planning, created by OCR, these resources ensure that the needs of persons with disabilities are understood by first responders and other emergency response providers at the Federal, State, and local levels during all emergency situations.

Interruptions in child care services during an influenza pandemic may cause conflicts for working parents that could result in high absenteeism in workplaces. Some of that absenteeism could be expected to affect personnel and workplaces that are critical to the emergency response system. A checklist created by CDC will help child care and preschool programs prepare for the effects of a flu pandemic and will help them protect the health of their staff and the children and families they serve. Many of these steps can also help in other types of emergencies.

For more information on this topic, see In the Spotlight: Emergency Preparedness, Prevention, and Response.

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