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Operation Giving Back

Domestic Disasters

The following links are provided as a courtesy to those with an interest in humanitarian outreach in response to disasters. Unless otherwise indicated, the American College of Surgeons is not affiliated with these organizations and not responsible for the content of their Web sites.

American College of Surgeons (ACS)

The American College of Surgeons provides several resources related to disaster response:


The American College of Surgeons’ Committee on Trauma offers the one-day course, Disaster Management and Emergency Preparedness (DMEP). Through both didactic and interactive teaching with an all-hazards approach, the course addresses core competencies of disaster response including planning, triage, incident command, injury patterns and pathophysiology, and consideration for special populations. The intended audience is acute care providers (ie, surgeons; anesthesiologists; emergency medicine physicians; ER, OR, ICU and trauma nurses; and pre-hospital professionals) who will most likely be the first receivers of casualties following major disasters. Other health care providers, administrators, public health personnel, and emergency managers are also encouraged to attend.

In addition, the ACS-COT creates a number of resources related to disaster response including:


U.S. Government Disaster Response Agencies


Emergency System for Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP)

Administered by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), ESAR-VHP is a state-based electronic database of health care personnel who volunteer to provide aid in an emergency. The system is designed to (1) register health volunteers, (2) apply emergency credentialing standards to registered volunteers, and (3) allow for the verification of the identity, credentials, and qualifications of registered volunteers in an emergency.

Disaster Management Assistance Teams (DMATs)

DMATs are designed to be a rapid-response element to supplement local medical care until other Federal or contract resources can be mobilized, or the situation is resolved. DMATs are under the jurisdiction of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DMATs deploy to disaster sites with adequate supplies and equipment to support themselves for a period of 72 hours while providing medical care at a fixed or temporary medical site. These deployable units consists of approximately 35 individuals; though teams may consist of three times this number to provide some redundancy for each job role to better facilitate deployments.


Medical Reserve Corps

MRC units are community-based and function as a way to locally organize and utilize volunteers who wish to donate their time and expertise to prepare for and respond to emergencies and promote healthy living throughout the year. MRC volunteers supplement existing emergency and public health resources. The overarching goal is to improve health literacy, with aims of increasing disease prevention, eliminating health disparities, and improving public health preparedness.


National Association of City and County Health Officials' Public Health Preparedness
NACCHO assists local health departments in preparedness planning through strengthening the Medical Reserve Corps' ties to the nation's public health system.


International Medical-Surgical Response Team (IMSuRT)

IMSuRT is a mobile civilian medical and surgical unit staffed by professionals from medical and bioengineering fields, with the ability to rapidly mobilize appropriate manpower and equipment to a mass casualty site domestically or overseas. IMSuRT works in cooperation with local authorities at the mass casualty site to provide rapid assessment and medical stabilization of injured persons. When the mass casualty is overseas, rapid evacuation of casualties is accomplished by the responding military air evacuation service.

IMSuRT Teams:

Educational Resources


American Academy of Pediatrics: Children and Disasters Resources

The American Academy of Pediatrics has compiled a comprehensive list of disaster response resources, including agencies that respond to disasters and educational resources, for pediatric physicians and parents.


AMA Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response
Through the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response, the AMA strives to be recognized as an important national educational resource for enhancing the disaster preparedness and response capabilities of both civilian and military providers.


Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Emergency Preparedness and Response

The CDC has created several resources to provide education and information for professionals and the general public regarding emergency preparedness and response for different crises:

Disaster Information Management Research Center

The US National Library of Medicine's Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) provides access to a wide variety of health information resources and technology for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, including monthly conference call meetings and webinars.

National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP)

The NCDP is dedicated to the study, analysis and enhancement of the nation's ability to prepare for and respond to major disasters, focusing on readiness of the health and public health systems, health workforce and citizen readiness, disaster communications, national preparedness benchmarks and the needs of special populations, the integration of preparedness efforts, and the existing public health infrastructure.

National Preparedness Directorate National Training and Education

The National Preparedness Directorate (NPD) online Course Catalog provides searchable, integrated information on courses provided or managed by FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), Emergency Management Institute (EMI), and National Training and Education Division (NTED).

The Pediatric Disaster Resource and Training Center (PDRTC) at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles

The PDRTC coordinates planning for pediatric care during widespread disasters in Los Angeles County, provides education and training for other institutions to plan for similar situations, and is creating a network for "virtual care" by remote physicians during disasters.


Licensing and Liability


Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act*
This act aims to establish a robust and redundant system to quickly and efficiently facilitate the deployment and use of licensed practitioners to provide health and veterinary services in response to declared incidents of disasters and emergencies. This act (1) establishes a system for the use of volunteer health practitioners capable of functioning autonomously even when routine methods of communication are disrupted, (2) provides reasonable safeguards to assure that health practitioners are appropriately licensed and regulated to protect the public’s health, and (3) allows states to regulate, direct and restrict the scope and extent of services provided by volunteer health practitioners to promote disaster recovery operations.

* Please note, this legislation is being actively introduced in many states. If you are interested in learning how to become involved in your own state, please let us know by sending and email via the “Contact Us” link at the top of this page.


Personal Preparedness Resources

The city of San Francisco has compiled information on individuals' response and preparedness in a variety of disaster situations. The information is widely relevant: