Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief

Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief


Monitoring Emergencies

From official sources (O.S.) and media (M). It does not represent PAHO's official position.

Chile 7/29/2014

Biobío Region. Floods and landslides due to rain affect 500 people and damage 130 homes; damage to the emergency room of the Lota Hospital (will be relocated shortly). Yellow Alert remains for storm system until Thursday. (o.s.: ONEMIIntendencia de Biobio, Hospital de Lota ; m.: Biobio Chile, Resumen)

Colombia 7/29/2014

Valle de Cauca department. Buenaventura municipality. Electricity outages since 8 p.m. affect 400,000 people in rural and urban areas; they were possibly caused by attacks on power transformers. The electricity is working in the hospital zone. Emergency plan activated. (m.: El Espectador, Caracol, El Tiempo)

United States 7/29/2014

California. Forest fires in Yosemite National Park, in the Sierra Nevada and in Amador County leave one person injured and damaged 51 homes and buildings. Evacuations underway. Local and state response. (o.s.: CalFire, INCIWEB; m.: KPPC, NBC)

Guatemala 7/29/2014

 Flood and landslide update. 1,541 people affected in the Alta Verapaz, Izabal, and Baja Verapaz Departments. Damage to 268 homes. Response by departamental authorities. (o.s.: CONRED)

Honduras 7/29/2014

Drought affects 28 municipalities in five departments. National response. Food distribution in El Paraíso department. (o.s.: COPECO)

Mexico 7/29/2014

6.4 magnitude earthquake recorded, with a depth of 131 km, 46 km southwest of Isla (Veracruz), no major damage. Fence in Civil Hospital of Oaxaca falls, no victims. Activation of security protocols, state governments initiate monitoring for possible damage. (o.s.:  Gobierno del DF, Gobierno de Oaxaca, Gobierno de Veracruz;  m.: Milenio).

Chile 7/29/2014

Biobío Region. Floods and landslides due to rain affect 500 people and damage 130 homes; damage to the emergency room of the Lota Hospital (will be relocated shortly). Yellow Alert remains for storm system until Thursday. (o.s.: ONEMIIntendencia de Biobio, Hospital de Lota ; m.: Biobio Chile, Resumen)

New Publications for Disaster Response Teams

Psychosocial Support in Emergencies and Disasters

This practical guide to mental health and psychosocial support has been produced with a psychosocial and community approach, so that the intervention center can detect and anticipate problems and strengths with a community perspective. It has been designed to be a user-friendly tool and application for emergency response teams. It has been specifically designed for primary health care teams and those persons, institutions or organizations involved with these teams in responding to emergencies and providing humanitarian aid.

The main references for the preparation of the guide have been the Practical Guide for Mental Health in Disaster Situations, published by PAHO/WHO in 2006 and the IASC Guidelines on mental health and psychosocial support in humanitarian emergencies and disasters, published by the Interagency Standing Committee (IASC) in 2007.

Guidelines for the Preparation of Simulation Exercises and Drills for Emergencies and Disasters

One of the most appropriate instruments to evaluate and test preparedness and response plans are simulation exercises and drills; for many years these have been widely used by organizations involved in preparedness or response to disasters. In addition, simulations and drills are also excellent training instruments; they are useful in assessing tools and processes, in decision-making exercises, in teamwork, and in coordination within and between sectors.

In preparing this publication, the Pan American Health has worked with a group of experts from Latin America and the Caribbean systematizing and reviewing experiences to prepare a set of practical guidelines to facilitate the planning and execution of drills and simulations. The guide sets the standard for the organization, development and evaluation of drills and simulations and raises the different uses can be given to these exercises, always in the context of emergencies and disasters. This tool aims to support primarily but not exclusively, health organizations, in their process of reviewing and updating disaster and/or emergency preparedness and response plans.

Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis in the Health Sector during Disaster Situations

Disasters have negative health effects that vary by type of event, the site of impact and its socioeconomic characteristics, the level of exposure of the population and their preparedness, the quality of infrastructure and response capacity installed, among other factors. Only with precise knowledge of the damage and effects it can be determined where help is needed. Damage assessments and evaluation of needs help identify the impact of a disaster, risk factors for health and needs in technical areas such as water and sanitation, epidemiological surveillance, health services, shelters, among others.

This new edition of the Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis (DANA) (the original was published in 2004) puts emphasis on the organization of the health sector, from the establishment of an emergency operating committee to the health situation room, a structure that should be replicated at the national, regional and local levels. The characteristics of DANA are analyzed and formats models for the collection and analysis of health information are presented. The intention is that decision making is based on quality technical information, to diagnose, prioritize, plan for intervention and request resources for responding to emergencies effectively.

Order copies of these publications (in Spanish only) from This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or download here as a PDF file.  You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read these files. Download the software for free from the Adobe website.

Apoyo psicosocial en emergencias y desastres (5.19 MB)
Guía para el desarrollo de simulaciones y simulacros de emergencias y desastres (1.7 MB)
Evaluación de daños y análisis de necesidades de salud en situaciones de desastre (6.67 MB)


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Knowledge Center on Public Health and Disasters 



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