By: Elaine Nguyen, PharmD, MHA
Director of Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience, American University of Health Sciences, School of Pharmacy
In 1988, the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act were enacted to support State and local governments and their citizens when disasters overwhelm them. This law sets the scope of assistance available from the Federal government and conditions for obtaining that assistance. When the request for a State Emergency is made, it is reviewed by the State and Federal officials for the severity and magnitude of the situation. In most cases, the State and Federal officials complete the assessment before the Governor submits the request.
During a declared disaster, emergency response programs are activated based on the needs found during the damage assessment. Disaster assistance falls into three general categories: 1) Individual Assistant, 2) Public Assistance, and 3) Hazard Mitigation Assistance.
In California, healthcare providers with an active license can volunteer for disaster services. The medical/health officials will notify registered healthcare providers at the State Emergency Operations Center or by individual county. Interested healthcare providers must first register in the Disaster Healthcare Volunteers (DHV) system at https://www.healthcarevolunteers.ca.gov. Volunteers who can deploy will have their information forwarded to the appropriate field operational officials. Examples of emergency response programs registered disaster healthcare volunteers may be assigned to include, but not limited to, the California Medical Assistance Team (CAL-MAT) or the Long Beach Medical Reserve Corps (LBMRC).
The California Medical Assistance Team (CAL-MAT) is part of the Disaster Medical Services Division. CAL-MAT Program is modeled after the successful federal DMAT program, and members in CAL-MAT are a group of highly trained medical professionals and other specialists organized and coordinated by the State Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), the organization responsible for planning, preparing, and managing the disaster events in California (e.g., earthquake, severe weather events, or public health emergencies). During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, CAL-MAT deployed over hundreds of healthcare providers to assist over 13 sites throughout California.
The Long Beach Medical Reserve Corps (LBMRC) serves the City of Long Beach and its approximately 500,000 residents by working directly with the Public Health Emergency Management Division at Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. During the pandemic, LBRMC deployed healthcare volunteers to assist in COVID testing throughout Long Beach.
Faculty at American University of Health Sciences, School of Pharmacy (SOP) are dedicated healthcare providers and committed to their community. Faculty members at the SOP are members of CAL-MAT and LBMRC and have assisted during the Camp Fire in Butte County and COVID-19 Emergency Response in California.
About American University of Health Sciences
AUHS is a Christian based, minority-serving university, which educates students for careers in the healthcare professions. AUHS emphasizes the values of faith in God, love of humankind, and belief that all people have a right to healthcare and deserve a good quality of life based on the wellness of body, mind, and spirit. The university celebrates diversity and reaches out to groups currently underrepresented in healthcare and research. AUHS provides the undergraduate and graduate curriculum, hands-on practical training and supportive environment required to create competent and compassionate healthcare professionals.
American University of Health Sciences is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501, 510.748.9001.