It is not often that I get to summon forth the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns, but last month’s preconference continuing education classes at the Midwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association (MLA) Annual Conference brought his words to mind, often stated as, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. Not only can we apply this phrase to disaster preparedness and response, but also to learning about disaster preparedness and response.
Through the combined efforts of the Midwest Chapter MLA continuing education planning team, Kathy Koch and Angie Tucker, and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Disaster Information Management Resource Center (DIMRC), we were able to offer training at the 2019 Midwest MLA conference to help participants meet the additional, elective continuing education courses of the MLA Disaster Information Specialization certificate. The classes included “A Seat at the Table: Working with the Disaster Workforce” and “Disaster Health Information Resources: The Basics” in a one-stop shop kind of day.
Nine participants, including four public librarians, took advantage of this opportunity not only for the training, but to gain continuing education credit toward the MLA Disaster Information Specialization certificate. Combined with the required six online FEMA courses, participants simply needed to add two more CE hours to apply for their certificate. Three participants were on the GMR Emergency Preparedness working group, and another was a non-librarian participant.
What sort of emergencies had our attendees experienced? Tornadoes and floods were the top two in the Midwest. Also of concern were ice storms, fires, and even a hurricane or two–admittedly not while living in the Greater Midwest.
What plans went awry? Despite the best intentions, more than one participant commented that they had trouble finding the time to take the classes, but this one-day, seven-CE offering solved that problem. Another participant shared that these classes helped to shift their understanding of their role in disaster management: “Before the training, I assumed our responsibility as information specialists was to focus on preserving information. I now have a better understanding of my role in disaster management and I am better prepared to lead my organization in coordinating, disseminating, and recording information to meet our community needs.”
Finally, this truly sums up what the training is all about: “I hope that I never have to use these resources, but if I do, I will be well prepared!”
In addition to the Midwest Chapter MLA continuing education planning team, Kathy Koch and Angie Tucker, the GMR thanks Dr. Darrell Williams, Administrator of the Division of Emergency Management in the Department of Military Affairs in Wisconsin for his enlightening presentation; Siobhan Champ-Blackwell, Technical Information Specialist at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Disaster Information Management Resource Center (DIMRC) for her never-ending guidance and expertise; and Michele Stricker, New Jersey Deputy State Librarian, Lifelong Learning, for her detailed presentation and her assistance with planning.
For those of you who wish to learn more about emergency preparedness and response, please see the resources shared on the GMR Preparedness and Response Guide or contact Jacqueline Leskovec directly.