November 2005 MedBytes: Disaster Relief on the Web

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November's Texas Medicine  provides complete coverage of how organized medicine in Texas responded to the hurricane disasters that affected the Gulf Coast. Here is a sample of sites on the World Wide Web that provide additional information about disasters and organizations that help the victims.

The Governor's Division of Emergency Management
The Governor's Division of Emergency Management (GDEM) carries out a comprehensive all-hazards emergency management program for the state. Additionally, the division helps cities, counties, and state agencies implement their own emergency management program. GDEM, like other state agencies, also is responsible for supporting the development and implementation of the Governor's Homeland Security Strategy. The site,  www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem, includes a staff directory, emergency management links, and hurricane evacuation maps. Visitors can also access situation reports and the Emergency Management Digest , a quarterly publication that provides useful information on activities and programs important to emergency management officials.

Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), at  www.fema.gov, is a former independent agency that became part of the Department of Homeland Security in March 2003. It is responsible for responding to, recovering from, and mitigating against disasters. FEMA's site provides information about the agency, its latest updates, and how to obtain federal aid. Also on the site are links and directories for state offices and agencies, and materials that support emergency preparedness and response for emergency personnel as well as the general public. FEMA's virtual library has hundreds of agency publications, many with a community focus.

American Red Cross
Before Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster the Red Cross had dealt with was the 1900 Galveston hurricane. The organization's site,  www.redcross.org, provides information on how to support Red Cross operations, health and safety tips, resources, and how to volunteer during disaster relief efforts. The site also has community disaster education materials, which can be downloaded and ordered online.

Salvation Army
With a membership of 3500 officers, 60,000 employees, 113,000 soldiers, 430,000 adherents, and more than 3.5 million volunteers, the Salvation Army,  www.salvationarmyusa.org, supplies numerous services during disaster relief operations. The organization can provide both immediate emergency assistance and long-term recovery help. Emergency response services are activated on short notice according to an agreed-upon notification procedure, while long-term recovery is strategically planned in response to the situation, through working and partnering with many other community entities. The Salvation Army site provides information about its latest relief operations, the organization's policies, and how to get involved.

International Medical Corps
Established in 1984 by volunteer doctors and nurses, the International Medical Corps (IMC) is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. IMC rehabilitates devastated health care systems and helps bring them back to self-reliance. IMC's site, located at  www.imcworldwide.org , has information about the organization's latest recovery and relief efforts, its women's health program, and how individuals can become involved. Site visitors can also sign up for the online newsletter and read additional information about IMC's programs. A multimedia section presents images from different IMC program destinations.

Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center
The Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, at  www.colorado.edu/hazards, is a national and international clearinghouse of knowledge concerning the social science and policy aspects of disasters. The center collects and shares research and experience related to preparedness for, response to, recovery from, and mitigation of disasters, emphasizing the link between hazard mitigation and sustainability to both producers and users of research and knowledge on extreme events. The center's online site provides access to recent publications, information about applying for research grants, and access to Disaster Research , a free e-mail newsletter with articles about new developments, policies, conference announcements, job vacancies, resources, and information sources in the field of hazards management.

MedBytes is a quick look at new, or newly discovered, Web sites of interest toTexasphysicians. The column also highlights features of the TMA Web site. Publication of information about Web sites in this column is not to be considered an endorsement or approval by the  TexasMedical Association of the sites or sponsors, or of any products or services involved.

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