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Fact Sheet
Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC)

Mission

The core purpose of the Disaster Information Management Research Center (DIMRC) is to develop and provide access to health information resources and technology for disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. Our intent is to connect people to quality disaster health information and foster a culture of community resiliency.

Background

Recognizing the untapped potential of libraries, librarians, and information services to aid in the nation’s disaster management efforts, the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM®) Long Range Plan (2006-2016) recommended the creation of a Disaster Information Management Research Center to help with national emergency preparedness, response, and recovery efforts. As part of NLM’s Specialized Information Services (SIS) division, DIMRC is tasked with the collection, organization and dissemination of health information resources and informatics research related to disasters of natural, accidental, or deliberate origin.

Historical Perspective with Disasters

NLM has a long history of providing health information to prepare for and respond to all types of disasters, and has developed a number of tools and advanced information services designed for disaster and emergency. NLM provided information for the Bhopal, India gas leak in 1984 and helped create local disaster information centers following Hurricane Mitch in Central America. NLM’s Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB®), a comprehensive toxicology database, provides the framework for the Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders (WISER®), a resource used by emergency responders to assist with the management of chemical, radiological, and biological emergencies. WISER was used in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, and in Iraq to help identify potentially toxic substances. More recently, NLM assisted public health officials responding to H1N1 influenza, earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the Japanese radiation event, by providing timely, evidence-based information.

DIMRC Activities

DIMRC is committed to help prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate the adverse health effects of disasters in conjunction with federal, state, and local governments, organizations, and local communities. To accomplish this, DIMRC is focused on several areas:

Maintain access to health information during disasters - DIMRC collects, organizes, and disseminates health information for all stages of disasters. This includes the scientific journal literature as well as evaluations, field assessments, after-action reports, lessons learned, and guidelines. NLM also worked with a number of publishers to develop an Emergency Access Initiative plan to provide full-text access, at no cost, to over 200 medical journals and numerous e-books and databases following any widespread disaster that is expected to severely limit libraries' abilities to function for at least several weeks. In addition, NLM plans and trains for continuity of operations at its own facilities, its eight Regional Medical Libraries, and the 5,800 member libraries of its National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Finally, NLM trains and supports librarians to serve as Disaster Information Specialists in support of meeting their communities' information needs.

Develop innovative products and services to serve health professionals and the public - NLM has developed several tools to assist emergency personnel prepare for and respond to hazardous materials (Hazmat) incidents and chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) events.  WISER assists with the identification of and response to Hazmat incidents involving chemical, biological, or radiological agents. WISER is available for multiple platforms and can be downloaded to mobile devices or PCs. REMM, the Radiation Emergency Medical Management Web site, was developed by the Department of Health and Human Services, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS/APSR), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and NLM to provide health professionals with critical information to manage all types of radiation events from dirty bombs to nuclear reactor accidents. REMM can be downloaded to a computer and is available on the Web or on mobile devices.  NLM also collaborated with HHS/ASPR on CHEMM, the Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management Web site. CHEMM is designed to assist emergency responders and health care providers manage large-scale chemical incidents. NLM is also investigating the use of new communication technologies in emergency and disaster situations and uses social media to facilitate  information sharing, communication, interoperability, and collaboration concerning disaster-related issues.

Conduct research to support disaster health information management - Through grants, research contracts, and in-house activities, NLM supports emergency preparedness and response research and development projects. This research and development support is making a significant contribution to the field of disaster informatics and in the development of new technologies. Currently, DIMRC is coordinating the research program for the Bethesda Hospitals' Emergency Preparedness Partnership by developing tools to enable three local hospitals to improve communications, patient management, information access, family reunification, and staff training.

Collaborate with other agencies and communities - Working with multiple federal agencies, international organizations, and educational institutions, NLM participates in national and local partnerships to ensure that information needs receive adequate attention in planning, responding to, and recovering from disasters.

Further Information

For detailed information about DIMRC, contact:

National Library of Medicine
Specialized Information Services
Two Democracy Plaza, Suite 510
6707 Democracy Boulevard, MSC 5467
Bethesda, MD 20892-5467
Telephone: (301) 496-1131
FAX: (301) 480-3537
e-mail: tehip@teh.nlm.nih.gov
URL: http://sis.nlm.nih.gov

For information on the NLM services, contact:

Customer Service
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894
Telephone: 1-888-FINDNLM (1-888-346-3656)
e-mail: custserv@nlm.nih.gov
URL: http://www.nlm.nih.gov

A complete list of NLM Fact Sheets is available at:
(alphabetical list) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/factsheets.html
(subject list): http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/factsubj.html

Or write to:

FACT SHEETS
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20894

Phone: (301) 496-6308
Fax: (301) 496-4450
email: publicinfo@nlm.nih.gov