Disaster medicine resources

Todd Vandenbark

Earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunami and hurricanes all take their physical and emotional toll on the victims of these acts of nature. In such crises, anyone with some medical training can be pressed into service to provide care and comfort for the injured. Yet providing this kind of care involves different elements than other kinds of emergency services. What resources are available to our patrons — future doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. — to help them prepare for and function in these situations?


Among our most recent e-book purchases is the book Disaster Medicine edited by Hogan and Burnstein. As the editors point out in the first chapter, disaster medicine is

“a system of study and medical practice associated primarily with the disciplines of emergency medicine and public health. Disaster medicine is concerned with the health and medical and emotional issues of disaster casualties. To provide care efficiently, however, the health care provider must be familiar with several elements of disaster management, including planning, mitigation, assessment, response and recovery.”

The book goes on to flesh out these aspect of disaster medicine in detail. In addition, it covers three basic categories of disasters:

  • natural disasters,
  • industrial, technological and transportation disasters, and
  • conflict-related disasters.

Disaster Medicine is available online to University of Utah authorized users, or just search our catalog.


But in a disaster a care provider does not have time to read a textbook. But most of us carry a mobile device which can be used for quick, on-the-spot reference and guidance. Unbound Medicine’s free Relief Central “mobile and web resource developed by staff and friends of Unbound Medicine to assist relief workers, first responders, and others called to serve in disaster relief situations around the world.” It includes the CIA World Factbook, the Field Operations Guide from USAID, MEDLINE Journals, and Relief News from the CDC, Red Cross, FEMA, ReliefWeb, and more. Install this app now and its invaluable information will be at your fingertips even if the telecommunications network is down. It is available for download to your iPod touch®, iPhone®, BlackBerry®, Android™, Palm®, or Windows Mobile® device.

Your turn!

If you’ve worked to provide emergency services in a disaster setting, what are your recommended tools and resources? If you’ve used Relief Central, how helpful was it?