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Institute for Disaster Mental Health

10th Annual IDMH Conference

Friday, April 19, 2013

Radiological readiness:
preparing for dirty bombs, nuclear disasters, andother radiation emergencies

Concurrent Professional Workshops
Descriptions & Learning Objectives:

Risk Messaging and Crisis Communication

It is important in all disasters to provide accurate and timely communication, and this is never more essential than in times of radiation emergencies. The public will be seeking answers to many questions, and official communications must quickly provide people with information about protective actions and instill the confidence and trust needed to assure community members that all necessary efforts are being taken to protect them. Panel participants will discuss ways to increase the effectiveness of communication in radiation emergencies, highlighting useful communication tools and resources for responders.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe the role of effective communication in a radiation emergency.
  2. Describe and identify barriers to effective risk communication before and after an incident.Identify ways of improving communication during a radiological emergency.
  3. Identify useful communication and resources that responders can use in a radiation emergency.

Assisting Children in the Aftermath of Catastrophic Events:

This workshop will provide participants with an introductory training on how to best help children and their families after a catastrophic event. This interactive workshop will provide participants with an overview of the common reactions that children may experience after such an event. The components of informally assessing the functioning of children and families will be presented and concrete ways to support children and families will be discussed. The presentation will emphasize intervening early and connecting families with community resources. This workshop is designed for anyone who is interested in learning about working with youth after catastrophic events, and will be of special interest for those professionals who work directly with children and adolescents. Specific tools, hands-on activities, and discussion of personal experiences will be encouraged.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to identify a range of behavioral, emotional, and cognitive reactions that children may experience after a catastrophic event.
  2. Participants will be able to identify key components of informally assessing the functioning of children after a catastrophic event.
  3. Participants will be able to describe how to use Psychological First Aid with children and their families.
  4. Participants will be able to identify the signs of severe traumatic reactions and will know when to make referrals for additional help.

Medical Aspects of Radiological Response

This workshop will focus on the medical aspects of responding to a radiation emergency.  Basic radiation safety concepts will be covered, as well as how to handle potentially exposed or contaminated patients in the field and in the hospital.  Hands on demonstrations of radiation detection equipment will be presented, and participants will have the opportunity to use the instruments to detect radiation. Resources for additional information will be provided.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe potential consequences of various radiation emergencies.
  2. Understand basic radiation safety concepts.
  3. Recognize the key elements in radiation exposure, contamination, and detection.
  4. Identify the key elements associated with and potential resources for the medical treatment of radiologically contaminated/exposed patients.

Understanding Post-Blast Human Behavior: Disaster Mental Health Overview:

This workshop will focus on addressing the mental health needs of survivors and responders following radiological terrorism and nuclear accidents. Because of a lack of understanding of these events, the general public has a deeply held fear of exposure to an invisible threat that can cause harm not only immediately, but over decades and even across generations. As a result, any radiological event is likely to produce widespread distress and anxiety, and these psychosocial reactions will increase not only individual suffering but logistical demands on the response system. Participants will learn about expected reactions in the general public and in specific vulnerable populations (i.e., pregnant women, children, older adults); how these psychological reactions are likely to influence behaviors; and how to address these behaviors through key psychosocial interventions.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify the prominent psychosocial issues related to radiological exposure.
  2. Describe evidence-based psychological interventions for those impacted by radiological events, including needs of special populations such as pregnant women, children, and older adults.
  3. Plan how to address concerns among people who fear they've been exposed (people with Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms) through psychoeducation, risk communications, and other interventions.
  4. Identify key elements of self-care for first responders and health and mental health helpers involved in the response to radiological incidents.

Lessons from Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Accident

Dr. Becker will discuss how the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident impacted the community and what lessons can be learned from this accident. The workshop will describe the social, behavioral, and risk communication issues from the accident, and how emergency preparedness and response professionals can learn from these implications.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe some of the major community impacts of the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident.
  2. Identify and discuss what lessons have been learned from the accident regarding social, behavioral and risk communication issues.
  3. Explain the implications of these "lessons learned" for radiation emergency preparedness and response