Disaster Medicine

Emergency sign

Disaster Medicine is the area of medical specialization serving the dual areas of (1) providing health care to disaster survivors and (2) providing medically related disaster preparation, disaster planning, disaster response and disaster recovery leadership throughout the disaster life cycle.

Program Objectives

  • Demonstrate ability to implement the incident command system
  • Describe characteristics of injuries from natural and man-made disasters including injuries due to CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiologic, nuclear or explosive) events
  • Contrast the roles and responsibilities of federal, state, and local disaster response agencies
  • Plan and propose a systematic response to a hypothetical mass casualty incident using principles of mass triage, surge capacity, incident command and multi-agency coordination
  • Evaluate current healthcare system vulnerabilities and corresponding mitigation efforts
  • Define operational medicine and describe the unique aspects of its various subtypes/subspecialties including wilderness, tactical, event, EMS, aviation/shipboard, and executive protective medicine

Meet Your Disaster Medicine Directors

Program Activities

Required First & Second Year Activities

  • Attend the Disaster Medicine lecture/workshop series

    • Students are expected to attend all of the lecture/workshop series, however may miss one per academic year
    • Scholarly Concentration Directors may accept attendance at other disaster medicine related lectures for lecture/workshop credit on a case by case basis
  • Participate in an Experiential Opportunity/Internship in the Summer following first year of at least eight week duration
    • Meet with the Scholarly Concentration Directors to identify an acceptable summer internship opportunity.
    • Students must submit a project proposal including scope of work, timeline, objectives/goals, and the organization/mentor with which the student will be working including contact information.
    • Military students (HPSP) may use their Officer Basic course to satisfy part of this requirement, but must meet the overall eight week duration by supplementing their summer experience if the Officer Basic course is under eight weeks.
    • After project completion, students are required to submit a 4-6 page paper to include the student’s project scope, the role the student played in the project, how the project changed from the original proposal, and reflections on the experience.
    • Present a summary of the experience in the Fall to the MS1 class.

Lecture/Workshop Series

Topic Areas for Years I & II (sampling)

  • Introduction to the Disaster Medicine Scholarly Concentration
  • Phases of the Disaster Cycle
  • Introduction to the Incident Command System
  • Hospital response to a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI)
  • Understanding Surge Capacity
  • The National Disaster Medical System and Disaster Medical Assistance Teams
  • Pandemics – understanding the roles and responsibilities of hospitals and government agencies
  • Biological agents and principles of isolation and prophylaxis
  • Chemical agents and principles of decontamination; case study of the anthrax attack
  • Radiological Dispersion Devices (“dirty bombs”) and other radiological emergencies
  • Targeted Automobile Ramming Mass casualty (TARMAC) attacks
  • The Hospital Incident Command System
  • The National Response Framework
  • NDMS response to the Hurricanes of 2017
  • Blast injuries and IEDs
  • Introduction to Operational Medicine: Concepts and areas of specialization
  • Introduction to Urban Search and Rescue
  • Event Medicine Concepts and Case Studies
  • Tactical Medicine and the Physician’s Role in Law Enforcement
  • Onboard Emergencies – In Flight and On-Board Medical Emergencies

Required Second Year Activities (continued)

  • Complete the following FEMA Independent Study courses found at http://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.aspx before completion of Second Year

    • Note that you may be required to obtain a FEMA Student ID for access to the on line courses at https://cdp.dhs.gov/femasid

      • IS-100.HCb: Introduction to the Incident Command System for Healthcare/Hospitals
      • IS-200.HCA: Applying ICS to Healthcare Organizations
      • IS-700.A: NIMS An Introduction
      • IS-800.B: National Response Framework, An Introduction
      • IS-366: Planning for the Needs of Children in Disasters
  • Scholarly Project requirements:
    • The scholarly project should be a 10-page, referenced paper on a topic related to Disaster Medicine.
    • The topic needs prior approval from the Scholarly Concentration Directors to ensure it meets the program requirements.
  • Senior Elective in Disaster Medicine - IDIS/EM 361  

Option 1

  • Complete the following FEMA Independent Study courses found at http://training.fema.gov/IS/crslist.aspx

    • IS-235.b: Emergency Planning
    • IS-346: An Orientation to Hazardous Materials for Medical Personnel
    • IS-546.a: Continuity of Operations Awareness Course
    • IS-808: Emergency Support Function (ESF) #8 – Public Health and Medical Services
    • IS-907: Active Shooter: What You Can Do
  • Participate in 4 scheduled Disaster Medicine lecture or workshop sessions during 3rd and 4th year OR participate in a DC Medical Reserve Corp volunteer opportunity and write a 2 page reflection paper on the experience

Option 2

  • Take a 4 week elective at an organization or work on a project in disaster medicine approved by the Scholarly Concentration Directors
  • Write a 2 page paper on your elective experience

Other Extracurricular Opportunities

  • Students may have opportunities to work with faculty members on projects, research, and publications
  • Students will have opportunities to sit in on other related subject matters to Disaster Medicine