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Responding to Emergencies

Helping people affected by disasters, conflict or other crises requires special considerations. Working in a disaster zone or responding to emergencies requires special considerations for a medical outreach team. This section includes general guidelines for humanitarian response in emergencies as well as tools and resources with information on current emergencies. Additional information is provided for specific health and security concerns.

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Tools and Resources

Find links to websites providing information on current emergencies, travelers’ health and security information, and resources covering issues such as water and sanitation, migrant health and mental health.

Current Emergencies


CDC – Health Alert Network

Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System

Relief Web

Relief Web Labs (useful for volunteers or interest after a disaster, projects explore new and emerging opportunities to improve information delivery to humanitarians)

Travelers’ Health and Security Information

Travelers’ Health 

US Department of State

WHO – Capacity Building on Humanitarian Health Action

Water and Sanitation

WHO: Updated Technical Notes on WASH in Emergencies

Migrant Health

WHO/UN Human Rights/International Organization for Migration – International Migration, Health and Human Rights 

Mental Health

National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health – Pediatric Children’s Psychosocial Needs in Disasters (David J Schonfeld, MD, FAAP)

Training Manual for Mental Health and Human Service Workers in Major Disasters

UN High Commissioner for Refugees/WHO – Mental Health of Refugees

WHO Humanitarian Health Action: IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings

World Bank Book of Best Practices – Trauma and the Role of Mental Health in Post-Conflict Recovery

Training Courses

American College of Emergency Physicians EMS and Disaster Preparedness

American College of Emergency Physicians International Emergency Medicine Training Material

Federal Emergency Management Agency Community Emergency Response Team Basic Training Participant Manual

Federal Emergency Management Agency Independent Study Courses

Federal Emergency Management Agency National Preparedness Directorate National Training and Education Division

Global Health Emergency Medicine/Toronto General Hospital Teaching Modules

IFRC Introduction to International Disaster Response Laws, Rules, and Principles

Relief Web Humanitarian Training Programs

WHO and Coursera Psychological First Aid: Guide for Field Workers

Other Resources

American Academy of Pediatrics – Pediatric Education in Disasters Manual (English and Spanish)

Emergency Medical Services for Children – Pediatric Disaster Triage

In the Eyes of Others: How People in Crises Perceive Humanitarian Aid (MSF-USA) 

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies: Introduction to Disaster Preparedness

The Brookings Institute – Natural Disaster Resources

United Nations Population Fund – Shelter from the Storm: A transformative agenda for women and girls in a crisis-prone world


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Active Emergency Responses

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Featured Resource

Implementation Manual for WHO Surgical Safety Checklist

Safe surgery helps save lives, relieves disability, and prevents death from neglected common conditions. The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist helps improve the safety of surgery and avoid potentially preventable surgical complications. 

Americares is committed to advancing safe surgical and anesthesia care. Through our Safe Surgery Initiative, we aim to improve access to safer surgery in low-resource settings by increasing the number of operating room staff that have access to and are trained in the use of pulse oximetry and the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist.