In this one-hour webinar, which is part of the Hot Topics series, Chris Sanford, MD, and Cynthia M. Smith, RN, share their experiences and reflect upon lessons they learned from their response efforts to Hurricane Katrina that may have important implications for public health planning and response to major disasters. Following their presentations, Lisle Hites, a Research Assistant Professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, shares his reflections both as a person who was directly impacted by the disaster and as a public health professional surveying the area as part of the recovery effort.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe the role of Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) in a public health emergency and strategies for improving their effectiveness
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses of interagency coordination during a volunteer experience
  • Describe three ways to address the identified areas of concern in their local preparedness plan

Intended Audience

Public health professionals; Volunteer organizations; Health care providers; State, tribal, and local emergency/disaster response teams


Chris Sanford, MD, works for the University of Washington in Seattle, WA, as a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and co-director of the Travel Clinic at Hall Health Primary Care Center. His presentation, "Nine Days at the Airport: The Medical Response to Hurricane Katrina", will document the sequence of events leading up to and during the hurricane, as well as his participation in Disaster Medical Assistance Team deployed to the New Orleans airport.

Cynthia M. Smith, RN, has been the Director of the Hill County Health Department in Havre, MT, for six years. She serves as the workforce committee chair for the Montana State Public Health Improvement Task Force, and is active on many service committees and coalitions to improve health systems in Montana. Cindy will present "Hurricane Katrina: A Public Health Official in a Red Cross Volunteer World", which will help participants assess how well prepared they are to work together with local or national volunteer organizations during an emergency by exploring her experience as a certified Red Cross Health Service Volunteer in the Katrina response efforts.

Lisle Hites, Research Assistant Professor at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Photograph of the Superdome surrounded by flood waters.
Air Date: 
Tuesday, November 1, 2005, 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm PST
Emergency Preparedness & Disasters
1 hour
Hot Topics in Practice
Competency Domains: 
Communication Skills
Community Dimensions of Practice Skills
Leadership and Systems Thinking Skills
Public Health Sciences Skills