Disaster Medicine Interest Group joins the UBC Department of Emergency Medicine

There is a growing need for disaster medicine collaboration, research and training among healthcare professionals in British Columbia, according to a group of UBC Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) faculty members. To address this need, the department established the Disaster Medicine Interest Group in October 2023.

“We’ve seen several disasters just within BC over the last few years, with the heat dome that led to the deaths of hundreds of people, the atmospheric river that caused flooding in the Fraser Canyon, and the recent wildfires that impacted people across the province,” said Dr. Anthony Fong, UBC DEM clinical assistant professor and chair of the Disaster Medicine Interest Group. “With the frequency of disasters expected to increase every year, it’s never been more relevant to form a group like this.”

The new interest group aims to establish UBC as a centre for excellence in disaster medicine by building interprofessional relationships, highlighting the activities of researchers and healthcare practitioners, and supporting its network to learn and contribute in this field.

Disaster medicine involves a combination of clinical medicine, public health and emergency management principles. The interest group is open to membership from all specialties that touch on disaster medicine, including critical care, anesthesia, family doctors, nurses, paramedics, allied health professionals, social workers, mental health practitioners, and emergency management professionals.

“Being a physician prepares you to use your expertise in the environment where you’ve been working on a daily basis, but when a disaster happens the capacities that exist and the environment that you work in can change drastically,” added Dr. Fong. “You need the right set of tools to help cope with this change in environment.”

Dr. Fong’s co-founders include fellow DEM faculty members Dr. Chris Lee, Dr. Floyd Besserer and Dr. Graham Dodd.

More information on membership, as well as research or mentorship opportunities through the UBC DEM Disaster Medicine interest group can be found here.