Correction: Correction: Challenges for Resuming Normal Life After Earthquake: A Qualitative Study on Rural Areas of Iran


Correction The corresponding author designation is incorrect in the original correction. The corresponding author of this article is Hamid Rez Khankeh. References Correction: Challenges for Resuming Normal Life After Earthquake: A Qualitative Study on Rural Areas of Iran. PLOS Currents Disasters. 2015 Mar 9. Edition 1. doi: 10.1371/currents.dis.7118c63570e15df3cc033090ea4e0120. View Original Correction

The Hospital Incident Command System: Modified Model for Hospitals in Iran


Introduction: Effectiveness of hospital management of disasters requires a well-defined and rehearsed system. The Hospital Incident Command System (HICS), as a standardized method for command and control, was established in Iranian hospitals, but it has performed fairly during disaster exercises. This paper describes the process for, and modifications to HICS undertaken to optimize disaster management in hospitals in Iran.
Methods: In 2013, a group of 11 subject matter experts participated in an expert consensus modified Delphi to develop modifications to the 2006 version of HICS.
Results: The following changes were recommended by the expert panel and subsequently implemented: 1) A Quality Control Officer was added to the Command group; 2) Security was defined as a new section; 3) Infrastructure and Business Continuity Branches were moved from the Operations Section to the Logistics and the Administration Sections, respectively; and 4) the Planning Section was merged within the Finance/Administration Section.
Conclusion: An expert consensus group developed a modified HICS that is more feasible to implement given the managerial organization of hospitals in Iran. This new model may enhance hospital performance in managing disasters. Additional studies are needed to test the feasibility and efficacy of the modified HICS in Iran, both during simulations and actual disasters. This process may be a useful model for other countries desiring to improve disaster incident management systems for their hospitals.

An Analysis of Cesarean Section and Emergency Hernia Ratios as Markers of Surgical Capacity in Low-Income Countries Affected by Humanitarian Emergencies from 2008 – 2014 at Médecins sans Frontières Operations Centre Brussels Projects


Background: Surgical capacity assessments in low-income countries have demonstrated critical deficiencies. Though vital for planning capacity improvements, these assessments are resource intensive and impractical during the planning phase of a humanitarian crisis. This study aimed to determine cesarean sections to total operations performed (CSR) and emergency herniorrhaphies to all herniorrhaphies performed (EHR) ratios from Médecins Sans Frontières Operations Centre Brussels (MSF-OCB) projects and examine if these established metrics are useful proxies for surgical capacity in low-income countries affected by crisis.

Methods: All procedures performed in MSF-OCB operating theatres from July 2008 through June 2014 were reviewed. Projects providing only specialty care, not fully operational or not offering elective surgeries were excluded. Annual CSRs and EHRs were calculated for each project. Their relationship was assessed with linear regression.

Results: After applying the exclusion criteria, there were 47,472 cases performed at 13 sites in 8 countries. There were 13,939 CS performed (29% of total cases). Of the 4,632 herniorrhaphies performed (10% of total cases), 30% were emergency procedures. CSRs ranged from 0.06 to 0.65 and EHRs ranged from 0.03 to 1.0. Linear regression of annual ratios at each project did not demonstrate statistical evidence for the CSR to predict EHR [F(2,30)=2.34, p=0.11, R2=0.11]. The regression equation was: EHR = 0.25 + 0.52(CSR) + 0.10(reason for MSF-OCB assistance).

Conclusion: Surgical humanitarian assistance projects operate in areas with critical surgical capacity deficiencies that are further disrupted by crisis. Rapid, accurate assessments of surgical capacity are necessary to plan cost- and clinically-effective humanitarian responses to baseline and acute unmet surgical needs in LICs affected by crisis. Though CSR and EHR may meet these criteria in ‘steady-state’ healthcare systems, they may not be useful during humanitarian emergencies. Further study of the relationship between direct surgical capacity improvements and these ratios is necessary to document their role in humanitarian settings.

Correction: Challenges for Resuming Normal Life After Earthquake: A Qualitative Study on Rural Areas of Iran


Notice of Correction 27 March 2015: PLOS Currents -. Correction: Correction: Challenges for Resuming Normal Life After Earthquake: A Qualitative Study on Rural Areas of Iran. PLOS Currents Disasters. 2015 Mar 27. Edition 1. doi: 10.1371/currents.dis.7c5047fd650abcb2339d1af7782a3066. View correction. Correction There are errors in the author affiliations. The affiliations should appear as shown here: Fardin Alipour1, [...]

The Humanitarian Situation in Syria: A Snapshot in the Third Year of the Crisis


Between April and June 2014, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), an International NGO, and the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East (GOPA) conducted a needs assessment of Syrians affected by the crisis with the objective of gaining a better understanding of humanitarian needs and assistance priorities. Findings suggest that interventions that increase access to non-food items, food, medication and education should be prioritized where cost was the primary barrier to accessing goods and services. Cash transfer programs and direct provision of material assistance should be considered, though the most appropriate assistance modality is likely to vary by sector, location and the preferences and prior experience of donors and implementing organizations. Renewed international commitment to funding humanitarian assistance efforts in Syria and neighboring countries where the burden of refugees is greatest is essential from both a human rights perspective and in terms of maintaining stability in the region.

Tehran Dust Storm Early Warning System: Corrective Measures


On June 2, 2014 a sandstorm hit Tehran, the capital city of Iran which killed 5 and injured 44 people. The early warning system did not operate properly and the alarm was not transferred to at risk population and the related organizations in time and in a right manner. Additionally, people who were exposed to the winds didn’t know the appropriate safety measures. Focusing much more on establishing EWS to alert the risk prone population timely and public education for taking safety measures when exposed to the disastrous situation is recommended.

Performance Assessment of Communicable Disease Surveillance in Disasters: A Systematic Review


Background: This study aimed to identify the indices and frameworks that have been used to assess the performance of communicable disease surveillance (CDS) in response to disasters and other emergencies, including infectious disease outbreaks.

Method: In this systematic review, PubMed, Google Scholar, Scopus, ScienceDirect, ProQuest databases and grey literature were searched until the end of 2013. All retrieved titles were examined in accordance with inclusion criteria. Abstracts of the relevant titles were reviewed and eligible abstracts were included in a list for data abstraction. Finally, the study variables were extracted.

Results: Sixteen articles and one book were found relevant to our study objectives. In these articles, 31 criteria and 35 indicators were used or suggested for the assessment/evaluation of the performance of surveillance systems in disasters. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated guidelines for the evaluation of public health surveillance systems were the most widely used.

Conclusion: Despite the importance of performance assessment in improving CDS in response to disasters, there is a lack of clear and accepted frameworks. There is also no agreement on the use of existing criteria and indices. The only relevant framework is the CDC guideline, which is a common framework for assessing public health surveillance systems as a whole. There is an urgent need to develop appropriate frameworks, criteria, and indices for specifically assessing the performance of CDS in response to disasters and other emergencies, including infectious diseases outbreaks.

Key words: Disasters, Emergencies, Communicable Diseases, Surveillance System, Performance Assessment

Developing a Consensus-based Definition of “Kokoro-no Care” or Mental Health Services and Psychosocial Support: Drawing from Experiences of Mental Health Professionals Who Responded to the Great East Japan Earthquake


Objectives: In this survey, we aimed to build consensus and gather opinions on ‘Kokoro-no care’ or mental health services and psychosocial support (MHSPSS) after a disaster, among mental health professionals who engaged in care after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Methods: We recruited mental health professionals who engaged in support activities after the Great East Japan Earthquake, which included local health professionals in the affected areas and members of mental health care teams dispatched from outside (n = 131). Adopting the Delphi process, we proposed a definition of ‘Kokoro-no care’, and asked the participants to rate the appropriateness on a 5-point Likert scale. We also solicited free comments based on the participants’ experiences during the disaster. After Round 1, we presented the summary statistics and comments, and asked the participants to re-rate the definition that had been modified based on their comments. This process was repeated twice, until the consensus criterion of ≥ 80% of the participants scoring ≥ 4 on the statement was fulfilled.

Results: In Round 1, 68.7% of the respondents rated the proposed definition ≥ 4 for its appropriateness, and 88.4% did so in Round 2. The comments were grouped into categories (and subcategories) based on those related to the definition in general (Appropriate, Continuum of MHSPSS, Cautions in operation, Alternative categorisation of care components, Whether the care component should be categorised according to the professional involved, Ambiguous use of psychology, and Others), to mental health services (Appropriate, More specification within mental health services, More explicit remarks on mental health services, and Others), and to psychosocial support (Whether the care component should be categorised according to the professional involved, Raising concerns about the terms, and Others), and others.

Conclusion: We achieved a consensus on the definition of ‘Kokoro-no care’, and systematically obtained suggestions on the concept, and practical advice on operation, based on the participants’ experiences from the Great East Japan Earthquake. This collective knowledge will serve as reference to prepare and respond to future disasters.

What’s the Big Deal? Responder Experiences of Large Animal Rescue in Australia


Background: The management of large animals during disasters and emergencies creates difficult operational environments for responders. The aims of this study were to identify the exact challenges faced by Australian emergency response personnel in their interactions with large animals and their owners, and to determine the readiness for large animal rescue (LAR) in Australia.

Methods: A survey tool collected the views and experiences of a broad cross section of emergency services personnel operating across Australia and across all hazards. Data were collected from 156 responders including Australian emergency services personnel, emergency managers such as federal agricultural departments, and local government.

Results: Overall, many of the respondents had serious concerns, and felt that there were significant issues in relation to LAR in Australia. These included the coordination of emergency care for animals, physical management of large animals, inter-agency coordination, and dealing with animal owners. Very few respondents had received any formal training in LAR, with an overwhelming majority indicating they would attend formal training if it were made available.

Discussion: Results help to guide the development of evidence-informed support tools to assist operational response and community engagement, and the production of professional development resources.

Snow Tweets: Emergency Information Dissemination in a US County During 2014 Winter Storms


Introduction: This paper describes how American federal, state, and local organizations created, sourced, and disseminated emergency information via social media in preparation for several winter storms in one county in the state of New Jersey (USA).

Methods: Postings submitted to Twitter for three winter storm periods were collected from selected organizations, along with a purposeful sample of select private local users. Storm-related posts were analyzed for stylistic features (hashtags, retweet mentions, embedded URLs). Sharing and re-tweeting patterns were also mapped using NodeXL.

Results: Results indicate emergency management entities were active in providing preparedness and response information during the selected winter weather events. A large number of posts, however, did not include unique Twitter features that maximize dissemination and discovery by users. Visual representations of interactions illustrate opportunities for developing stronger relationships among agencies.

Discussion: Whereas previous research predominantly focuses on large-scale national or international disaster contexts, the current study instead provides needed analysis in a small-scale context. With practice during localized events like extreme weather, effective information dissemination in large events can be enhanced.