Conference on planning and response to terrorism and disaster

To help reduce the psychological impact of terror and disaster, the City of New Haven's Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence (NCCEV) at the Yale Child Study Center, and the Department of Psychiatry, will host a conference March 20 and 21 at Yale School of Medicine.

Titled "The Terror of Terrorism and Disaster: Planning, Response and Recovery," the conference will feature talks by NCCEV and Department of Psychiatry faculty, and officials from the United States and Israeli governments. The conference will be held Monday, March 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Yale New Haven Health System Institute for Excellence Auditorium, 300 George St. The conference will continue Tuesday, March 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with a look at "School-based Disaster Response: The Tel-Aviv Model," at the Yale Child Study Center Cohen Auditorium, 230 South Frontage Road.

Conference presenters, including J. Robert Flores, administrator of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, will discuss ways to integrate behavioral health perspectives with disaster plans on the local level. The goal is to increase the capacity of Greater New Haven cities and towns to clarify functions, roles and activities that will better prepare them to meet all aspects of critical events. These events also have implications for the behavioral health of citizens in the wake of any disastrous mass-casualty.

According to conference organizers, the chaos that follows natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terrorist attacks can severely impede coordination of municipal and professional caregivers working to re-establish order and safety, and to reduce anxiety. The plan is to develop integrated partnerships before disasters occur to enhance their ability to react.

Because of the emerging appreciation of psychological reactions on the management of disaster and terrorist events, an Israeli model that integrates behavioral health perspectives with practical approaches to dealing with the terror of terrorism and disaster will be presented. The presentations are intended to help stimulate discussion and promote further planning of UASI strategies in local communities.

The conference will kick off a year-long project designed to inform and raise awareness about the need for psychological disaster management within the community. Participants will work with the community to provide technical assistance in developing plans and templates that incorporate mental health as a component in emergency operations plans.

In addition to Flores, conference speakers include three officials from the Cohen-Harris Center for Trauma and Disaster Intervention in Tel Aviv: Nathaniel Laor, director, Leo Wolmer, director of research and Zeev Weiner, director of community interventions. Other speakers will be Smadar Spirman, director of the city of Tel-Aviv Emergency Treatment Services; Steven Marans, director of NCCEV; Stephen Bunney, M.D., chair, Yale School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry; Steven Berkowitz, medical director of NCCEV; Craig Newton, Yale-New Haven Hospital; Leonard Barbieri, UASI program director at the NCCEV; John Burtula, chief administrative officer of the city of New Haven; and Wayne Dailey, assistant clinical professor, Department of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and senior policy analyst, Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services.

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For further information on the conference, please contact Sharon Reynolds at 203-785-7047 or sharon.reynolds@yale.edu.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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The aim of psychoanalysis is to relieve people of their neurotic unhappiness so that they can be normally unhappy.
-- Sigmund Freud