Category Archives: Disasters

Using Twitter to Counteract Hype, Part 2 – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of August 11, 2014)

CDC Combats Ebola Hype with Twitter Chat August 8, 2014

Last week, I showed you some of the ways in which the healthcare community is using Twitter to combat hype and misinformation about Ebola. This week there is a more specific example of the same idea — how the Centers for Disease Control scheduled a Twitter chat to answer questions in public for clinicians and healthcare providers about the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

There are some surprises in this collection. Some surprising questions, some surprising answers, and sometimes the surprise is in who is doing the answering. The conversation around bleach is especially interesting. Also, notice who is retweeting what the CDC says. This is a small sampling, but many many people passing along the information, and this is important for spreading the word.



First posted the the THL blog:

Using Twitter to Counteract Hype (#Ebola) – Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of August 4, 2014)

Ebola virionsEbola virus particles
From Wikimedia Commons: Ebola virions; Ebola virus particles

In the last week, I don’t think there has been a moment when the trending hashtags display on my Twitter page has NOT listed “Ebola.” This is in part due to the attention resulting from two American healthcare providers having been infected with the Ebola virus while providing care, and partly also from the newest update from WHO on the outbreak in West Africa, which lists over 1500 cases and almost 900 deaths. People are panicking, and the press is going wild. This is a great opportunity to show how healthcare professionals and the broader healthcare Twitter community is using the #Ebola hashtag to help alleviate concerns and moderate anxiety, by providing informed balanced reliable information. Each of the tweets included in this post is considered a popular tweet which has already been retweeted several times and/or favorited by people reading the tweet. If you want to help calm things down, you might consider retweeting or sharing some of these popular tweets on the topic.

lores Ebola Zaire CDC Photo
From Wikimedia Commons: Ebola case #3, 1976

Reposted from THL Blog:

Infographic of the Week: Using Social Media as a Crisis Management Tool

Bizarre infographic story

At first I chose this infographic because I loved what it said. I’m a big fan of “SMEM,” a.k.a. “social media emergency management,” so I hoped that putting an infographic about this on my door might get a few folk to read part of it as they went by. Then I did more digging and found it makes a very interesting story.

Last winter, the folks at Emergency Management Degree released an infographic which they had (evidently) hired another company to make. The original infographic is available here:

Unfortunately, while it says who came up with the content, does a lovely job of citing original sources, and names the designers, they neglected to include either a copyright statement, a Creative Commons license, or the date it was made. To verify when it was released, it was necessary to look at blogposts that cited it. This was the earliest one I could find.

Infographic: Using Social Media as a Crisis Management Tool, February 11, 2014

The one I found and printed for my door was, however, not the same one. The original infographic was taken by a firm in India, and remade or “jazzed up.” They preserved all the original content in the same sequence (except for the names of the designers), kept a similar color scheme, and made it look different. Frankly, the original one is better designed and the remade one uses a lot of clip art. I don’t know if they were asked to do this for the blog on which I found the redesigned one or if it was their own idea and the blog simply stumbled on it. In any case, everyone links back to the folk who came up with the original content, so it is only the design that changed. Well, and the company from India that remade it added a few typos, probably because English is a second language for them? Here is where I found the redesign a couple weeks ago.

Social Media Makes a Powerful Crisis Management Tool: Infographic shows just how vital a firm grasp of social media is for crisis management / By Jonathan & Erik Bernstein on May 9, 2014

And that explains why I have an infographic with typos on my door. You probably want the original, so here it is!

Using Social Media as a Crisis Management Tool
Image source:

Preparedness — Hashtags of the Week (HOTW): (Week of April 7, 2014)

SL - Wolverine: UMMS Elective, Play2Train

It seems like now every week has so many incredible conversations going on that it is hard to choose a topic for these weekly posts. This week I was saved by the synchronicity of two separate tags with similar themes. The annual Preparedness Summit conference was going on (#PS14), and then the weekly medical librarians chat (#medlibs) also focused on disaster preparedness. So, there you go, that’s today’s topic!

The Preparedness Summit focused on the profession, trends, new research, etc. The medical librarians chat, to my surprise, focused less on libraries and more on practical personal sharing of what’s most important to remember for personal safety in various types of disaster scenarios. Both were useful and information. Here are highlights from both hashtags. There are even overlapping tweets, with both hashtags!

First posted at THL Blog:

New Presentations on Social Media in Disasters, Crises, Emergencies

My blog has been laying fallow while I work on recovering from an injury to my dominant arm, but, as progress is being made with healing, I want to try to start getting back into the blogging habit, starting with some simple posts. Today I stumbled onto some excellent slide presentations on use of social media in disasters of various sorts, a topic for which I have great passion and which is highly relevant to health professionals, especially those working in public health.

Two of the presentations I want to highlight are both by folk who are excellent resources on this topic, but people just don’t know about them as much as I think is deserved. They are Anahi Iacucci, Senior Innovation Advisor at Internews Network, and Jim Garrow, Operations and Logistics Manager at Philadelphia Department of Public Health. The other is by the phenomenal Eric K. Noji, who spoke here at UM some years ago, and has published widely on this topic. He is my number one go-to guy for information about information needs during different types of disasters. You might not know he’s on Slideshare, though, because he isn’t there under his own name, but as “Center for Polar Medical Operations, US Antarctic Program.”


Starting with the last, Dr. Noji posted a new presentation a few days ago on how to foster disaster resilience around the entire world, courtesy of Dr. Walter Hays. I would LOVE to see libraries use the structure of knowledge presented here to strategically plan information collections designed explicitly for disaster preparation for their own local community.

Three steps towards global disaster resilience in 2014:
“Continuation of a renewed emphasis on promoting our 2014 paradigm of global disaster resilience.
Step 1: Integrating Today’s Global Knowledge Into Global Books of Knowledge
Step 2: From Today’s Books of Knowledge to Innovative Capacity Building
Step 3: From Today’s Paradigm to Tomorrow’s
Presentation courtesy of Dr. Walter Hays, Global Alliance for Disaster Reduction”

You might also find interesting his earlier paper on “Emergent Use of Social Media” upload of the “Bill Gates Favorite Info Graphic for 2013: Causes of Untimely Death.”


Anahi Iacucci evidently decided to do some late year housekeeping, and uploaded a boatload of great slide presentations all on December 15th. I’m being selective and only pointing out a few that I think are particularly important, as well as recent.

In this first selection, Ms. Iacucci expresses the important issue of how open data and open access can have unexpected and important impacts in a time of crisis.

“While a growing conversation is happening around Open Data as a driver for development and accountability, little, if any, is being said about the role of open data in humanitarian emergencies. While we ask governments to open all their data as a duty towards their citizens, humanitarian organizations seems to be pretty much left outside. Is there a need for open data in the humanitarian community space? What would it look like? Are transparency and accountability strictly linked to the healthy recovery of communities in emergencies?”

Humanitarian emergencies: searching for Open Data

The next selection focuses on what you can DO with the right information! How can access to necessary information promote trust, and how does that information move from person to person to get to the point of need? The main foci of the talk is on: Information flows, trust, influence, technology & new media.

Preventing Conflict with the right information – UNDP Workshop

Last but not least of this group is a piece she does on the power of social media and crowdsourcing for information dissemination, gathering, and management during crisis.

“The overall objective of this workshop was to increase the effectiveness of internal communications among public health stakeholders and external communications with the general public before, during, and after public health emergencies.”

Social Media for Public Health during Emergencies

There are several other goodies in her collection, worth exploring.


Following along that theme, the first piece from Jim Garrow’s collection is his excellent keynote from the National Association of Government Webmasters 2013.

Saving Lives 2.0: How Social Media will Change Disasters and Response

Next, his clever and witty presentation earlier this year at the 2013 Northeast Texas Public Health Association Emergency Preparedness Bridging the Gaps Conference.

The Role of Social Media in Disasters

Lastly, his November collection of examples and stories. I wish I could have heard this, or that audio was available to go with it! Still, and excellent resource for those looking for persuasive examples to use in conversation with their own communities.

Social Media in Disasters: reports from the field


Here’s a bonus. This isn’t a terribly well done slide presentation, but it has interesting information which I seriously hope will be better presented somewhere else. This is giving survey data results from an American Red Cross survey done in 2012, and which was evidently posted in Slideshare by someone unconnected with the project. I was able to locate the original slides here. The particular part that captured my attention most was on slide 8:

“8% of the general public, 14% of 18-34 year olds, and 10% of the online population have downloaded a smartphone app that could help in a disaster or emergency
have downloaded an app that could help in a disaster or emergency.”

“Most Popular Emergency Apps
1. Weather Forecasting App 82%
2. Flashlight App 52%
3. First Aid App 31%
4. Police Scanner App 26%
5. Disaster Preparedness App 19% “

Social media in disasters and emergencies (survey red cross)

And another fascinating piece (the excellent NASEO report on how social media was used in Hurricane Sandy) which someone else loaded to slideshare after they found it elsewhere online.

June 2013, Lessons Learned: Social Media and Hurricane Sandy (Virtual Social Media Working Group and DHS First Responders Group)

You Can Help! Crowdsourcing Disaster Planning & Response Resources for #SMEM


I can’t tell you how EXCITED I am about this project! Disaster and crisis response planning is one of my, well, hobby isn’t the right word, so let’s say special areas of interest. I like languages, and I love accessibility. I love advocacy and doing-good-for-others projects and activities. You all know how engaged I am with social media. I go giddy over citizen science and crowdsourcing and collaboration technologies. Then, riding the bus to work a couple days ago, I was chatting with Dave Malicke from Open Michigan, and he mentioned they are (wait for it):
of a video series in YOUTUBE
developed as part of a global health COLLABORATION
on DISASTER management and response and EMERGENCY planning!!

Open Michigan: Emergency Planning Lecture Videos -HEALTH Alliance: Captions

Now, really, how could I not be excited?

Even better, they are kicking off with a grand event combining both a real life and virtual meet-up (with FOOD for the face-to-face part). They are calling this the Translate-a-Bowl, and it starts today and runs through the weekend. But don’t stop if you are busy all of Superbowl weekend, because the need for translators and proofing will continue until it is all done!

I am remembering when the tsunami hit Japan, and people had found emergency hospital evacuation procedures, and needed them urgently translated RUSH into Japanese. These videos were developed for East Africa in collaboration with a group of African and American universities. It is really an impressive collaboration. If you can’t help, the project is still fascinating, especially for how it is organization and developed. If you know English and any other language, take a further look.

“Our priority languages are French, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish, and Swahili, but we encourage all languages. (We have computer-generated translations in those 4, plus 31 others.)”

About the project:
Help us translate educational videos about microbiology and disaster management from Michigan, Ghana, and East Africa:

Register for the Bowl:


Here is the playlist of the disaster management videos:

Emergency Planning Lecture Videos -HEALTH Alliance: Captions:

Remember, they are also doing other topics, like microbiology, it is just that I am so excited about the disaster videos.

Sandy Hook and Health

Pic of the day - When Bullets Count the Seconds

Yet another school shooting. Yet another act of mass violence and mass murder. The events last week at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut were devastating to many. Aspects of health are entwined throughout almost every aspect surround this story, and every person connected with it, from perpetrator to victim to survivor and beyond.

When an unnamed source was quoted as saying that the gunman had Asperger’s Syndrome, there were outcries expressing concern about safety around persons with autism, concern about safety around persons with mental illness, and concerns that public or media implications that create or expand stigma for persons with either autism or mental illness or other disabilities would end up harming or destroying many more than the events themselves.

“[I]t is imperative that as we mourn the victims of this horrific tragedy that commentators and the media avoid drawing inappropriate and unfounded links between autism or other disabilities and violence. Autistic Americans and individuals with other disabilities are no more likely to commit violent crime than non-disabled people. In fact, people with disabilities of all kinds, including autism, are vastly more likely to be the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators.”
Autistic Self Advocacy Network. ASAN Statement on Media Reports Regarding Newtown, CT Shooting.

Others are demanding improved gun control. The group We Are Better Than This offers only one of many petitions for changing legislation with respect to access to guns in the United States.

One of the best pieces I’ve read about these events is by Christopher Ferguson, highlighting some of the complexities of these issues.

Sandy Hook Shooting: Why Did Lanza Target a School?

In his brief essay, Ferguson, an associate professor of psychology and criminal justice, draws on parallels with acts of mass violence in other countries to show that guns are not necessarily required for mass violence to occur, and that perhaps there are more central issues, such as mental health support. His answer to why are schools so often targeted for acts of mass violence is that the perpetrators are often people in pain who want to make others suffer as much as they have, and thus they choose to hurt the most loved and most vulnerable.

“Gun control may potentially remove one tool from the hands of potential perpetrators, but mass homicides occur in every part of the globe — Scotland, Norway, Germany, China. So while it may indeed be the right time to talk about gun control, as many are saying, it is also the right time to talk about mental health care in our country. … As the National Alliance on Mental Illness has been warning for some time, the existing level of funding is inadequate, so our nation’s ability to identify and care for the severely mentally ill has been hamstrung. … Granted, neither gun control nor a well-funded mental-health system will prevent every mass homicide. But we leave ourselves — and more innocent children — vulnerable until we address both of those issues.”

As part of reading various approaches and opinions, and exploring health resources for persons involved with events of this sort, I collected a variety of resources, links, guidelines, and commentary into an interactive and structured mind map. Any node in the mindmap which has a small gray arrow to the right side is an active link that will take you to the original source. Many of these are PDF documents designed for responders, clinicians, and planners. The mindmap is continuing to be updated, but you can see a full resolution image of a recent version by clicking on the image below. To see and manipulate the mindmap itself, click on the link below.

Sandy Hook & Health Mindmap:

Sandy Hook & Health