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Disaster Science Research Initiative to Enhance Responder Safety and Health

NIOSH staff member interviews responders during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response

NIOSH staff member interviews responders during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Response

NIOSH developed the Disaster Science Research Initiative (DSRI) to enhance the safety and health of emergency responders

The DSRI will expand our understanding of how to conduct timely, scalable, scientifically sound research focused on the safety and health of responders. The goal is to develop a framework that allows for research to be started quickly in the time before, during, and after response to a large scale disaster.

Scientific study can provide better understanding and reduction of responder health effects from disasters and can lead to improvements in the effectiveness of emergency responses. NIOSH invites partner participation in DSRI by all those interested in ensuring the safety and health of responders in a disaster through research.

Background

Since establishing the Emergency Preparedness and Response Program in 2002, NIOSH has been a leader in the field of disaster science research especially with regard to finding new ways to ensure responder safety and health before, during, and after a disaster. In partnership with other Federal and state agencies, as well as private sector entities, NIOSH has made responder safety and health research an important part of its research portfolio. DSRI will concentrate on developing an approach to timely, scalable, scientifically sound responder-based research that can feasibly be implemented before, during, and after a large-scale disaster. NIOSH is the only Federal agency charged by Congress to conduct worker safety and health research.

Research on disaster science and responder safety and health presents unique challenges. These challenges include:

  • Quickly deciding whether or not a research study is needed
  • Ensuring that the study design does not interfere with the actual response activities,
  • Ensuring that the study design and implementation plan are realistic for the given situation and
  • Ensuring that the research provides a benefit for the responders in the current or future events.

Goals

The goal of disaster science research is to produce useful, reliable results. As emergencies are by definition unpredictable, an accelerated decision-making process is necessary to determine if research should be undertaken.

Research Questions

Some of the potential questions under consideration by the DSRI include:

  1. What are the primary questions needing research considering the possible types of responses and the responders involved?
  2. Where are the major gaps in our understanding of exposures and other factors influencing responder health?
  3. What are the major barriers to disaster science research to enhance responder safety and health?
  4. What research is NIOSH uniquely positioned to do and what is the role of the academic community in responder safety and health research?
  5. What is the role of emergency preparedness and response practitioners and consultants in responder safety and health research?
  6. What role should bio-monitoring play in responder disaster research and how is it best implemented?
  7. How can Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS) best be used to complement responder disaster research?
  8. How does disaster research to ensure responder safety and health best fit into existing national response policies and systems?

Contact Information

For more information on DSRI or to participate in this research contact CAPT Margaret Kitt at ajy8@cdc.gov or CDR Lisa Delaney at lkd2@cdc.gov

Related Links

Emergency Preparedness and Response Program Portfolio

Emergency Response Resources

Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS)

Guidance Documents for Protecting Emergency Responders

NIOSHTIC-2 Search Results for Emergency Response

Related Publications

DSRI Background Paper

A Decision Process for Determining Whether to Conduct Responder Health Research Following Large Disasters

Call to Action: Include Scientific Investigations as an Integral Component of Disaster Planning and Response. A Report from the National Biodefense Science Board

Recommendations for Biomonitoring of Emergency Responders: Focus on Occupational Health Investigations and Occupational Health Research

Research as a Part of Public Health Emergency Response

 
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  • Page last reviewed: April 1, 2014
  • Page last updated: April 1, 2014
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