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Learning From The Past and Planning For The Future


"We must make the best of those ills which cannot be avoided." - Alexander Hamilton

Short Subjects

Rocky Mountain Region
Disaster Mental Health Institute

Mental Health Moment Online

CISM/CISD Annotated Links

Gulf War Syndrome




NIMH Meeting Announcements

Rocky Mountain Region
Disaster Mental Health Institute
Fourth Annual Critical Incident
Stress Management Workshops
November, 2004

17th Congress of the International Association
of Cross-Cultural Psychology (IACCP)

August 2 - 6, 2004
Location: Xi'an, CHINA
Contact: Zheng Gang
Institute of Psychology
Chinese Academy of Sciences
100101 Beijing, China

62nd Annual Conference of the
International Council of Psychologists

August 3 - 6, 2004
Location: University of Jinan
Jinan, CHINA
Contact: Dr. Natividad Dayan
Scientific Chair
99 General Ave
GSIS Village, Project 8
Quezon City, Metro Manila
01108 PHILIPPINES Telephone: 632-724-5358

XXVIII International Congress of Psychology
August 8 - 13, 2004
Location: Beijing, CHINA
Contact: XiaoLan FU, Deputy Director
Committee for International Cooperation
Chinese Psychological Society
Institute of Psychology
Chinese Academy of Sciences
P.O. Box 1603
Beijing 100101, China
Telephome: +86-10-6202-2071
Fax: +86-10-6202-2070

22nd Nordic Congress of Psychology:
"Psychology in a World of Change and Diversity -
Challenges for our Profession"

August 18 -20, 2004
Location: Copenhagen, DENMARK
Contact: Roal Ulrichsen, Chair
NPK2004 Organizing Committee
Danish Psychological Association
Stokholmsgade 27, DK-2100
Copenhagen Ψ, Denmark


Broomfield, Colorado
Omni Interlocken Hotel
October 5,6, & 2004
Three days of intensive
Pre-Conference Workshops.
October 8 & 9, 2004
38 Sectional Presentations, Poster Sessions,
Exhibits and much more! Keynote by:
Dr. Sandra Russ,
Author of Play in Child Development
and Psychotherapy.
For brochure or information:
Association for Play Therapy,
2050 N. Winery, Suite 101, Fresno, CA 93703
(559) 252-2278, Fax: (559) 252-2297

UN-Habitat World Urban Forum, Cities:
Crossroads of Cultures Inclusiveness and Integration

September 13 - 17, 2004
Location: Barcelona, SPAIN

VI International Baltic Psychology Conference
Human Diversity: Cognitive,
Affective and Behavioral Dimensions

September 16 - 18, 2004
Location: Vilnius, LITHUANIA

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
48th Annual Meeting

September 20 - 24, 2004
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

FEMA Authorizes Firefighting Funds For Waterfall Fire In Nevada

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has made federal funds available to help defray the firefighting costs for the Waterfall fire burning in Kings Canyon near Carson City, Nevada. Michael D. Brown, under secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response, approved the request for federal fire management assistance for the Waterfall fire at 10:03 a.m. The request was made by the state at 7:15 a.m. The Waterfall fire has burned more than 300 acres, threatening 350 homes and exhibiting extreme behavior. About 200 personnel are responding to the fire that caused an evacuation of 50 homes closest to the flames. For Further Information, Go To:


There's nothing like a little adversity to inspire innovation and a California company says it has part of the solution to the problem of aging large air tankers. Aero Tech Ltd. has been trying to convince California authorities and the U.S. Air Force to test A-10 attack aircraft as medium-sized air tankers. The company's Web site claims governments are wasting time and money continuing to convert 50- and 60-year-old designs into effective firefighting aircraft when the FireHog version of the venerable Warthog carrying about 1,550 gallons of retardant would provide a modern alternative.


Aero Tech has been promoting the A-10 tanker concept for almost 10 years but the recent grounding of 33 large air tankers by the Forest Service gave new impetus to the proposal and the company prepared a brief for western governors. One of the biggest stumbling blocks appears to be freeing up a couple of A-10s for testing. The brief to the governors notes that dozens of A-10s, in flying condition, have been donated to museums in recent years and there are about 200 in storage in Arizona. Aero Tech claims the cost of converting an A-10 to firefighting duty is about $3 million, which it says is less than the conversion cost of less-effective S-2T aircraft in California.


Meanwhile, the Forest Service wasted little time getting the five heavy tankers it now has back in its arsenal back to work. Within a few days of the P-3 Orions from Aero Union Corp. being given the go-ahead to fly, two of them were used to battle a blaze threatening a telescope in Arizona. The five turboprops will be dispersed throughout the Western U.S., with one going to Alaska, but they will travel where needed to fight fires, said Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Jo Simpson. Other air-tanker contractors are now anxiously awaiting their turns for airworthiness inspections that could allow them to get back into business.

Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness

Are You Ready? A Guide to Citizen Preparedness brings together facts on disaster survival techniques, disaster-specific information, and how to prepare for and respond to both natural and man-made disasters. As the most comprehensive guide to personal emergency preparedness published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Are You Ready? will help individuals prepare themselves and their families for disasters. Revised in September 2002, Are You Ready? provides a step-by-step outline on how to prepare a disaster supply kit, emergency planning for people with disabilities, how to locate and evacuate to a shelter, and even contingency planning for family pets. Man-made threats from hazardous materials and terrorism are also treated in detail. The guide details opportunities for every citizen to become involved in safeguarding their neighbors and communities through FEMA's Citizen Corps ( initiative and Community Emergency Response Team training program. For More Information, Go To:

Biological Threat

A biological attack is the deliberate release of germs or other biological substances that can make you sick. Many agents must be inhaled, enter through a cut in the skin or be eaten to make you sick. Some biological agents, such as anthrax, do not cause contagious diseases. Others, like the smallpox virus, can result in diseases you can catch from other people. For More Information, Go To:

Chemical Threat

A chemical attack is the deliberate release of a toxic gas, liquid or solid that can poison people and the environment.

Possible Signs of Chemical Threat

Many people suffering from watery eyes, twitching, choking, having trouble breathing or losing coordination. Many sick or dead birds, fish or small animals are also cause for suspicion. For More Information, Go To:

Natural Disasters

Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as making an emergency supply kit and developing a family communications plan, are the same for both a natural or man-made emergency. However, there are important differences among natural disasters that will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take. Some natural disasters are easily predicted, others happen without warning. Planning what to do in advance is an important part of being prepared. For More Information, Go To:

UN report spotlights ways to reduce potential devastation of natural disasters

As the frequency of natural disasters rises, along with the number of people around the world whose lives and homes are at serious risk, the United Nations has launched a report highlighting 100 examples of how people are taking steps to make their communities less vulnerable when a catastrophe strikes. From building terraced fields in the Indonesian mountains to reduce the severity of floods to constructing earthquake-resistant buildings in Japan to producing a radio soap opera in Central America with storylines about hurricane awareness, the UN's disaster reduction arm hopes the report's examples will serve as an inspiration and as a guide. For More Information, Go To:

UN agencies rushing aid to flood-hit Nicaragua appeal for donor support

With Nicaragua now battered by four weeks of heavy rains which provoked landslides and flooding, United Nations agencies are rushing supplies to the affected areas while seeking nearly $1 million to provide more relief to 5,700 people in the Central American country. "For the people who have lost their friends and family this is a tragedy and they require immediate international support," Stephanie Bunker of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told the UN News Service. For More Information, Go To:


Resilience can be taken to be the capacity of a group or organization to withstand loss or damage or to recover from the impact of an emergency or disaster. Vulnerability is a broad measure of the susceptibility to suffer loss or damage. The higher the resilience, the less likely damage may be, and the faster and more effective recovery is likely to be. Conversely, the higher vulnerability is, the more exposed to loss and damage is the household, community or organization.

A resilience and vulnerability profile is an integral element of effective planning in the management of consequences to a community in an emergency or disaster. With such a profile, it is possible to:

• identify the strengths of particular areas, communities or groups in terms of such things as resources, skills, networks and community agencies. These strengths and local capabilities may be used, and be further developed, to minimize the negative consequences of an emergency or disaster through being used to support prevention activities or by supporting recovery activities.

• identify vulnerabilities of particular areas, communities or groups so that these can be managed in terms of prevention and preparedness activities, response activities and recovery programs. By identifying the risks and vulnerabilities prior to events, it will give local managers the opportunity to plan to avoid or to minimize the negative consequences of emergencies and disasters.

Resilience and vulnerability assessment is but one aspect of community profiling and local emergency management planning. In general, the following suggested guidelines could be useful for local community or governmental agencies:

1. ensure that in an emergency management context that they can identify individuals, families and groups who may be at greatest risk or most threatened by hazards.

2. ensure that needs which may arise after emergencies can be planned for, either in terms of prevention, in terms of priority attention in life threatening situations or in terms of assistance to support recovery from an emergency or disaster.

3. identify local and community strengths - these may include resources, skills, information and networks which can be used to develop and sustain resilience.

4. ensure that in the context of wide area and other types of emergencies and disasters, local government and agencies can work to ensure that communities and individuals have access to information which will assist their levels of resilience should the physical, social and commercial infrastructure and arrangements be temporarily disrupted.

5. support municipal emergency management processes and provide support and advice for municipalities in emergency management planning.

Resilience and vulnerability assessment is a process that is a necessary component of effective emergency management planning. However, it is unlikely that any assessment, or community audit, will capture every potential need or identify every person who, in some circumstance, may be exposed to a risk or to the possibility of some loss. This suggests that following an emergency or disaster it will be necessary to scan the affected area, through information campaigns, outreach programs, letter box drops, and other methods, to identify people who require assistance.

Any resilience and vulnerability analysis needs to be conducted with sensitivity and proper regard for people's privacy. This includes their right not to provide information. Additionally, due regard must be paid to the legal and other requirements of maintaining appropriate standards of confidentiality when dealing with information from the public. This information can be used as guidelines to assist planning by community members, emergency managers, etc. engaged in emergency prevention or response or recovery activities. It can be used by emergency managers from any level of community or organizational level as well.

Conducting a resilience and vulnerability analysis is not an end in itself. The purpose behind such activity is to highlight issues, needs and concerns and to work to effect a change - to improve resilience and/or to reduce vulnerability.

In terms of individual, group and community issues which support resilience and reduce vulnerability, there are some relevant broad principles to consider:


• We are aware from the experience of many events that the affected community(s) will expect to contribute to their own recovery. If denied an opportunity, they may establish their own structures and processes to achieve that end. It is paramount, therefore, to support community involvement. Successful management of the consequences is not possible without community commitment and involvement.

• It is useful to set out community issues in these terms because it places them in a management and operational framework. Issues of resilience, vulnerability and need are expressed in terms in which they can be operationalized and dealt with in a practical way.

• These issues are a broad characterization of the types of assistance and support that individuals and groups may require after a significant emergency or disaster. They are a way of thinking about service provision in management and operational terms rather than simply in terms of the particular assistance measure.


• Information and advice about assistance measures and how to access them, including eligibility conditions and application procedures.

• The normal biopsychosocial reactions which can be expected and how they can deal and cope with these reactions in themselves, members of their family and their community.

• How to make sense of the event in terms of its cause and fitting it into their "view" of the world.


• Financial assistance where eligible to help restore losses. This may include, where appropriate, grants, loans, and insurance.

• Physical goods such as temporary accommodation, essential household items, temporary public transport, tools, etc.

Management Capacity

• Time and opportunity e.g. to undertake recovery activities.

• Physical capacity e.g. which may include the support of other people, machinery, or other support where there is a particular need.

• Access to services e.g. through establishing support systems, locating service centers close to affected areas or access in terms of translator, interpreter, or other language and media services.

• Expertise e.g. access to specialist services such as tradesmen, financial counselors, and other professional services.


• Personal support e.g. outreach services, personal advisors and counselors, specialist support services, advocates and gatekeepers.

• Community support e.g. community development officers, etc.


• Consultation in developing and implementing assistance and recovery programs.

• Encouragement in making a contribution to policy and program development.

• Engagement in monitoring and auditing the progress of recovery.

Vulnerable Groups

Below is a list of groups of people who may have special needs following an event. It is not an exhaustive list. However, these are groups traditionally accepted as being vulnerable. It is important to understand that the aged, for example, are not vulnerable because they are aged. They may be vulnerable because they may have reduced mobility or be frail - impediments that some young people share.

These vulnerabilities may be countered in part by strengths and other capabilities. For example, the aged may have greater life experience to draw from, they may have a wide network of family and friends, or they may have a personal strength drawn from many years of battling through life.

These groups are generalizations. They are broad groupings of possible needs. More importantly, however, they are an indication that there may be a potential need or vulnerability which needs to be addressed in emergency management planning.

The listing below is directed at individuals or small groups. There may be larger socioeconomic categories or groups whose potential or actual strengths and weaknesses should be assessed. Farmers and ranchers, small businesses, local groups or associations may all have special and significant needs that separate them in some clear way from other members of their community.

Communities and agencies may be vulnerable to loss and damage from emergencies or disasters. A similar process of assessing elements of vulnerability and resilience and evaluating capability can be undertaken for communities and agencies as is undertaken for assessing the vulnerability and resilience of individuals, families, households, and groups.

It is important to emphasize in the vulnerability assessment that vulnerabilities and needs may change over time. Needs may be significantly less in terms of numbers of people and the urgency of the need after a few hours than after days or weeks. For example, the loss of a water supply may be trivial for an hour or two, but for much longer than that it has the potential to affect the whole population in a critical way.

Time of year may also be an important factor in assessing vulnerability and, hence, potential. Loss of heating in summer is less significant than it is in winter. Likewise, loss of refrigeration in winter may be less critical than in summer.


1. Aged (particularly the frail)

• In terms of mobility and physical capacity.

2. Very young

• In terms of managing their own lives and recovery and in terms of understanding the event.

3. Disabled (mental and physical)

• In terms of managing their own recovery and in getting access to information and resources.

4. Poor people with limited resources to meet essential needs

• In terms of having the financial and physical resources to achieve recovery or to protect themselves against loss through, for example, insurance.

5. Non-English Speakers

• In terms of understanding the potential risks and in gaining access to information.

6. Socially isolated

• In terms of having family or friends that can provide personal and physical support.

7. Physically isolated

• In terms of having easy, cheap and fast access to resources or in terms of being able to call upon resistance from other members of the community or from agencies.

8. Seriously ill

• In terms of already being in need and having a very low capacity to carry out protective or recovery activity.

9. People dependent on technology based life support systems.

• In terms of being dependent on systems over which they have no control.

10. Large families

• In terms of complex family needs and dynamics and increased costs for prevention and recovery.

11. Single parent families

• In terms of having to manage a range of demands with limited support.

12. Workers at risk from machinery/equipment failure

• In terms of potential severity of injury.

13. People with limited coping capacity.

• In terms of low or reduced capacity to manage life events.

14. People with inadequate accommodation

• In terms of being already in difficult circumstances and with existing high levels of need and support.

15. Those on holiday and traveling (particularly campers and motor home travelers).

• In terms of being absent from their own communities and resources.

16. Tourists from overseas

• In terms of being in an unfamiliar environment with little knowledge of how to access resources and support.

17. People with marginal coping capacity

• People with limited personal capacity to deal with stress and disruption, with limited economic resources or who have previously experienced significant stress, trauma, or loss in their lives may be tipped over the margins of successful life management or day to day coping by loss, damage or threat to life, safety, property or income caused by an emergency or disaster.

18. People affected by an emergency

• In terms of needs (medical, psychological, material, etc.) generated by the event.

Once the vulnerability assessment has been undertaken, the results will identify special needs which can be directly addressed as part of the local emergency management process. The results of the assessment should directly inform the process of planning, prevention and preparedness and may be made available to individuals, groups, communities and agencies to assist them with their local activity.


To search for books on disasters and disaster mental
health topics, leaders, leadership, orgainizations,
crisis intervention, leaders and crises, and related
topics and purchase them online, go to the following url:


The Vulnerability of Cities: Natural Disaster and Social Resilience

by Mark Pelling


Editorial Review

Book Info

Text looks at the literature on disasters and urbanization in light of recent catastrophes. Presents three detailed studies of cities in the global South, drawn from countries with contrasting political and developmental contexts: Bridgetown, Santo Domingo, and Georgetown. Softcover, hardcover available from the publisher. DLC: Urban ecology--Developing countries.


Contact your local Mental Health Center or
check the yellow pages for counselors, psychologists,
therapists, and other Mental health Professionals in
your area for further information.

Copyrighted and published by the Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Institute. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent.

The Rocky Mountain Region Disaster Mental Health Newsletter is published online weekly by:

Rocky Mountain Region
Disaster Mental Health Institute, Inc.
Box 786
Laramie, WY 82073-0786

Newsletter Online:

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