Emergency Response Team Methods

LABB Emergency Response Team Methods

The Emergency Response Team (ERT) is a group of trained personnel who go door to door in communities impacted by chemical accidents and emergencies throughout Louisiana. LABB’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) was formed with guidance from personnel from the American Red Cross and the US Coast Guard, with additional guidance from Federal Emergency Management Agency resources.

Deployment is determined by the ERT Operating Committee and must meet three out of five criteria:

●      Is the responsible party a petrochemical company?

●      Does the incident involve petrochemicals?

●      Does the incident involve an air release?

●      Is a community impacted?

●      Do we have a community contact?

The main activities of an ERT deployment include:

  • Conducting health surveys to determine impacts of nearby petrochemical accidents
  • Training residents how to report to the iWitness Pollution Map
  • Communicating findings with relevant officials
Emergency Response Team situation briefing with the Coast Guard during the Bayou Perot Response Day 3/14/13.

Emergency Response Team situation briefing with the Coast Guard during the Bayou Perot Response Day 3/14/13.

ERT Training:  Training includes door-to-door outreach, communication techniques for conducting health surveys, documenting visible evidence of petrochemical accidents, principles of air sampling, and how to train residents to make high quality reports to the iWitness Pollution Map.

Symptom Survey Design: The symptom survey is designed to investigate if residents exposed to spikes in air pollution during petrochemical accidents show symptoms of that exposure.  The survey design is based on Dr. Marvin Legator’s health symptom survey methods and uses a criterion, non-probability, convenience survey design. [1]

Survey Location: Locations for door-to-door health surveys are chosen by proximity of community to petrochemical accident (within 2 miles) and the wind direction at the date and time of the accident as documented by meteorological data.  The sample frame is downwind from the accident within 2-mile radius from the facility responsible for the petrochemical accident.  Eligibility or screening requirements are that the community must downwind of the accident, within a two-mile radius of the responsible facility and home when LABB ERT member knocks on the door.  The ERT knocks on all doors in the sample location.

Survey Time and Date:  The Emergency Response Team conducts surveys during the late afternoon and early evening, in an attempt to capture the maximum amount of respondents.  We deploy our team within one week of the accident.  We do not deploy at the same time as an accident in order to protect the health of the team.

Informed Consent[2]: All respondents are asked to give a verbal informed consent to be surveyed.  When a potential respondent opens the door, ERT members state, “I’m here with the Louisiana Bucket Brigade Emergency Response Team.  We work to document air quality around refineries and chemical plants. Today we’re out talking to your neighborhood about the accident that happened on___. We want to know if you or your family experienced anything.  These are some questions we’re asking your neighbors about the accident. (Show the survey tool) Your experience is completely anonymous; may I ask you some questions?” If they respond yes, ERT member checks verbal consent received on the survey tool and begins.  If they respond no, ERT members do not include their responses in our data analysis.

Survey Tool:  The survey tool is made up of three open-ended questions:  1) Describe odors, sights and sounds. 2) Describe any health effects from the experience.  3) Describe any emotional responses from the experience.  ERT surveyors then check a box next to the responses according to the respondents’ mention of health outcomes of interest:  respiratory, skin, headache, doctor, eye, nausea, fear, stress, anxiety, anger, confusion, sad and other.

Confidentiality:  No personal identifier information is recorded next to the survey responses.  Confidentiality of responses to the survey is guaranteed.

Data Validity:  All questions on the survey tool are open ended by design to avoid bias in survey responses. ERT members are trained to record only verbatim responses and not to use any leading questions to prompt responses[3] [4].

[1] Legator, M. S. (2001). Health Effects from Chronic Low-Level Exposure to Hydrogen Sulfide. Archives of Environmental Health, 56.2, 123-31.

[2] National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research. (1979). The Belmont Report. Retrieved from http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/belmont.html.

[3] De Moss-Roberts, C. and Orris, P. (2005). Chalmette Health Assessment Project.

[4] Orris, P. and Meeks P. (2002). Petrochemical Production and Community Health.


This entry was posted in Emergency Preparedness, Emergency Response Team, Field Canvass, Public Health. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Emergency Response Team Methods

  1. samdaniel101 says:

    That’s really good and I appreciate it.

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