Community Spotlight: Physician-Led Disaster Management Initiative Builds Stronger, Safer Communities
November 4, 2021 | 2 min. to read
Aligned with the Northwestern Medicine commitment to build safer and stronger communities, the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine established the Disaster Management and Community Emergency Preparedness Initiative (DMCEPI) in summer 2021. The DMCEPI aims to bring together the expertise of key collaborators and share knowledge about promoting community safety and mitigating emergencies. The new initiative will help communities be better prepared for mass events, ranging from sports events to natural and human-caused disasters. Led by Executive Director George T. Chiampas, DO, and additional directors — Jennifer L. Chan, MD, MPH; Lorenzo Gallon, MD, and security professional Steve Georgas — the initiative will offer education, training and outreach to communities throughout Chicago and beyond. Community awareness and real-world practice To prepare for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last weekend, Dr. Chiampas and Georgas worked with public and private organizations to ensure that required infrastructure was in place and key decision makers were united to handle unpredictable threats. They ran through various health scenarios and determined models of care that addressed anticipated risks. Another key element was communication that informed participants about expectations for the event, with an alert system that would inform them of any risks.
Dr. Chiampas has supported event planning like this for more than 15 years. What’s new is the collaboration and support from the Thorek Memorial Foundation to Dr. Chiampas to launch DMCEPI, which will bring together NM and Feinberg School of Medicine expertise, as well as public and private collaborators, to serve as a leading resource for local, national and global communities.
“While the work we’ve done with events like the Bank of America Chicago Marathon has set NM apart in this space, this initiative now provides a tangible platform to bring all of NM’s areas of expertise together, so we can continue to approach incidences in an efficient, prepared way,” says Dr. Chiampas.
A collaborative network Through this knowledge-building initiative, NM plans to collaborate with private and public organizations to strengthen public awareness, build disaster management skills among clinicians, and enhance overall community safety and preparedness for moments of crisis. “The goal of any incident is to be able to manage it, react efficiently, protect the public and learn from it all,” says Dr. Chiampas. “As we all deal with crisis circumstances, we hope this initiative will allow us to share key learnings, develop standard practices and grow together.”
Education and training Starting in spring 2022, a transdisciplinary course will be available to medical students at Feinberg School of Medicine twice each year, to provide a real-world understanding of what crisis looks like. The course will discuss events of any scale, from a smaller community crisis to an international incident. Training opportunities will expand beyond the medical school curriculum to involve practitioners at community hospitals who can help to advance preparedness and response practices in those settings. Learn about additional programming and goals of this new initiative at the DMCEPI page.
How to get involved The initiative is looking to build on existing external relationships and make new connections that align with its goals and foster innovation. If you would like to get involved with DMCEPI, submit information about your interest using this form.