Expert of the Week   for  30 Mar - 05 Apr 2015

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Stav Shapira

Researcher, PhD Candidate

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) Expertise:  Disaster preparedness and response of healthcare systems and local communities (community resilience). Human vulnerability to disasters and other emergencies.

Stav Shapira is a PhD candidate at the Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She earned a Master’s degree in Health Administration from the University of Bar-Ilan, Israel. Her research concerns earthquake casualty modeling and the integration of different approaches for casualty estimation. As part of her research, she is investigating elements of preparedness and response to disasters and emergencies among communities and healthcare systems, and has developed several tools for readiness assessment. She also examines factors related to social disparities and human vulnerability in the context of disaster and emergency events.

Earthquake preparedness and response among local communities: the interaction of human and environmental factors and their role in human vulnerability and injury prevention.

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QQuestion by Mr Emin Yahya Mentese

Dear Stav,
Regarding your PhD study, can you comment on the risk assessment approaches specifically for health facilities? What are the priorities while assessing the structural, non-structural and institutional vulnerability level of these critical buildings?
Thanks in advance.

Mr Emin Yahya Mentese Geomatic Engineer, MSc | Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality

APosted on 04 Apr 2015

Hello Mr. Mentese,

 Thank you for highlighting this important issue. Hospitals serveas key players in the response to any emergency or disastrous event, which isliable to become a mass-casualty incident (MCI). Coping with any MCI (whether dueto a natural or technological cause) requires the assessment of the expected challengesand possible vulnerabilities of the organization and the facility in which itis located. The challenges of most MCIs are generally similar – an influx ofpatients and a possible shortage of resources. The risk assessment is based onthree elements: a) the assessment of the potential ‘Hazard’, b) the ‘Exposure’to this hazard, and c) possible ‘Vulnerabilities’. I will elaborate shortly oneach element. The ‘Hazard’ is usually measured in terms of probability of occurrenceand unique elements of patients’ injury mechanisms (e.g. chemical and toxicologicalevents that requires knowledge, skills and resources to treat contaminatedcasualties). The ‘Exposure’ relates to the exposed population, structures and infrastructures,and finally the ‘Vulnerabilities’ of all of these. For example, in case of an earthquakethreat: we have to assess the hospital’s proximity to a fault line and the expectedground shaking levels in the region. The exposed populations in this case alsoincludes the medical staff and possibly their family members (this might affecttheir willingness to report and requires consideration). The vulnerabilities ofthe hospital structure must be assessed according to a seismic building code,and a plan to evacuate the structure in case of massive damage must bedeveloped. Non-structural elements (monitors or other medical equipment) needto be braced firmly to walls. Finally, the staffs’ knowledge, skills, attitudesand perceptions regarding response to such events needs to be evaluated aswell. On the basis of this assessment, a detailed contingency plan should beformulated.   


QQuestion by Mr Amit Shrestha

I have 2 parts of my question; First, how to evaluate/measure the effectiveness of "Earthquake Risk - Awareness" orientations given to private organizations as well as local communities?, Secondly, Are there simple tools to assess the emergency preparedness level of private sector organizations?

Mr Amit Shrestha Public Private Partnership | NSET

APosted on 03 Apr 2015

Hello Mr. Shrestha,


This is an interesting and complex question and I will do mybest to address both of the issues you raised. First, regarding the evaluationof effectiveness of “Earthquake Risk-Awareness” programs: if I understandcorrectly, you mean guidelines of how to prepare for an earthquake scenario andhow to appropriately act during one; these can be delivered in various wayssuch as targeted messages to the public via social media or other means such asworkplace preparedness projects, etc. This answer relates to the second part ofyour question, since the effectiveness of increasing awareness to a risk andproviding guidelines and orientations about how to prepare is measured throughthe levels of preparedness achieved after exposure to this information.Emergency preparedness has several dimensions: a) establishing contingencyplans for coping with a specific scenario taking in consideration crucialelements such as critical facilities and vulnerable populations; b) increasingresilience by taking actual measures to prepare such as strengtheningstructures according to seismic building codes, or bracing nonstructuralelements that can cause injuries in case of an earthquake, preparing emergencykits etc. and by providing coping strategies to the population (e.g.instructions how to act before, during and after a disaster). Every one ofthese aspects can be evaluated and measured and various assessment methods andtools were developed for this purpose. Few major examples are: 1) inspectionsthat assess the existence and compatibility of contingency plans according topredetermined standards (e.g. national guidelines); 2) mapping projects toidentify vulnerabilities in different aspects (e.g. structural, economic,social etc.) and 3) population surveys to assess knowledge regarding a specificscenario and adherence with preparedness guidelines.