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When disaster strikes, health-care workers respond

September 8, 2017

ASU clinical professor and longtime American Red Cross volunteer nurse shares health risks to be aware of during calamities

As superstorm Irma continues its destructive path and as residents in Texas and Louisiana grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, health-care providers are responding to an onslaught of patients in need of care. Cheryl Schmidt, a clinical professor in Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, well understands what the communities there are facing.

She has been a volunteer nurse in the American Red Cross since 1974 and served 70,000 Gulf Coast residents in Arkansas who evacuated during Hurricane Katrina. She has taught disaster-preparedness education to health-care professionals, nursing students and community members throughout the United States.

Question: What does a “typical” day look like for health-care providers responding to a major natural disaster like Irma or Harvey? What kinds of issues are they dealing with?

Answer: Health-care providers are most likely facing the same health issues we faced in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. People with chronic illnesses and disabilities present the biggest challenge, especially if they are forced to evacuate their homes without their medications and supplies. During Hurricane Harvey, volunteers were working 12-hour shifts and sleeping on military-style cots in staff shelters. American Red Cross volunteers provide a wide range of services to people affected by the disaster, including health and mental-health care, helping to replace lost medications and medical equipment, and providing food, clothing and shelter for those who lost their homes or are displaced temporarily by the disaster.

Q: What health problems can arise from a major storm like Harvey or Irma, and how can people protect themselves from those risks?

A: Even people who are generally healthy face several risks during disasters such as the massive flooding in Texas. The biggest risk is drowning after driving through flooded streets. The statement, “Turn around, don’t drown” is ignored too often by people desperate to escape the area.

People who wade through floodwaters may develop skin rashes from the toxic chemicals that are washed out of garages and tool sheds, or from sewage in the water, like they experienced in New Orleans in 2005. It’s important to shower as soon as possible after contact with contaminated water.

Carbon monoxide from portable generators may cause suffocation for those who try to shelter in place at home, so only operate generators outdoors. Once they arrive in crowded shelters, people face an increased risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses.

As floodwaters begin to recede, standing water may increase breeding of mosquitos. Standing water should be cleaned up as soon as possible, and people should wear mosquito repellant when outdoors.

Q: September is National Preparedness Month, and this year’s theme is, “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.” What can each of us do to prepare ourselves and our families for a disaster?

A: It is easy to become complacent living in areas that face less risk of natural disasters. But any area is at risk for man-made disasters such as apartment fires, overturned tankers transporting toxic chemicals, or even terrorist attacks.

Everyone should make at least a written plan of what they might need if they had to leave their home on short notice and never return. Internet sources such as www.redcross.org and www.ready.gov provide templates for such plans.

At a minimum, we should each have a “go-bag” containing:

  • One week’s worth of daily medications, or at least a list of medications
  • Copies of important papers (or scanned documents on a USB drive) such as proof of insurance for house and vehicle
  • Water and non-perishable food
  • First-aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Small, battery-powered radio
  • Change of clothing
  • Personal hygiene supplies

Each individual and family should personalize their lists and supplies, preparing them to quickly evacuate the area or to shelter in place.

Top photo: Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Jansen Schamp (left) and Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Rion Johnson assist with a medical evacuation during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. U.S. Fleet Forces Command sent personnel and assets to bolster Northern Command's support of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's assistance to federal, state and local authorities ongoing relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Christopher Lindahl/U.S. Navy

Katherine Reedy

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations & Strategic Communications

480-965-3779

 
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ASU Prep Digital promotes college-going culture in rural Arizona high school

High school in Miami, AZ, using blended learning with ASU Prep Digital in class.
September 11, 2017

New program provides rigorous content to existing schools and to online students

When Miami Junior-Senior High School in eastern Arizona wanted to boost its students’ chances of going to college, it found a partner in the new ASU Prep Digital online program, which is seeking to fill learning gaps in schools around the state and the country.

This school year, about 95 sophomores are taking English and biology using the ASU Prep Digital curriculum while sitting in their Miami classroom with their own school’s teachers.

“Almost all my kids, if they go to college or formal vocational training, they are the first in their family to do so,” said Glen Lineberry, the principal.

“So that postsecondary training is like a cliff and we’re trying to build a ramp up to it.”

Arizona State University is blurring the line between high school and college with ASU Prep Digital, a new program that is offered in two ways — as an a la carte offering to boost curriculum in partnership with existing schools, and as a full- or part-time online charter school that can accelerate the time it takes for students to earn a degree.

“We’re here to impact national college attainment and help students prep for college, prep for careers and prep for life,” said Amy McGrath, chief operating officer for ASU Prep Digital.

“That doesn’t just happen when you turn 18 and come to ASU. ASU can help you do that when you’re in ninth grade and someplace where you don’t have access.”

Miami, a small mining town about 70 miles east of Phoenix, has struggled with unemployment and poverty, and the junior-senior high school was underperforming. About four years ago, the district launched a new initiative called “There’s no D in Miami” to increase achievement and help pave the way for students to go to college. Lineberry said that the faculty restored upper-level courses like physics and the school added a career and technical education program, which students are required to complete for graduation.

Partnerships have been key. The school joined forces with Northland Pioneer and Prescott colleges for juniors and seniors to take courses that earn college credit.

“But in order to have students do college work as juniors, we needed to step up the level for freshmen and sophomores, so ASU Prep Digital is helping us to do that,” Lineberry said of the blended-learning model.

The district decided to make the investment in the ASU Prep Digital classes, which use the Cambridge International Curriculum, a rigorous and popular qualification system around the world. The teachers in Miami have been able to tweak the content as needed, for example, adding a lesson in lab safety that’s customized to the school.

“We’re getting great curriculum, and the kids are engaged and we think it’s a key part of getting the kids ready for college,” said Lineberry, who added that he would like to expand the offering next year.

ASU is connecting with the Miami students in other ways as well. Parents can take advantage of the American Dream Academy, an eight-week program for families to increase achievement and prepare for college. The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College is working with students who have expressed interest in becoming teachers, helping them with the application process.

“Part of the reason we’re trying to do this is because in 2012, a study came out that found that most high school teachers actually teach within 40 miles from where they went to high school. So we’re trying to recruit locally,” said Nancy Perry, associate dean for the Office of Grants and Partnerships and a clinical associate professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

And Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College student-teachers in Miami will learn how to educate in a blended-learning environment.

“We have many teachers around the state who are trying to be trained in that now, so our partnership is cutting-edge,” Perry said.

Miami is the first blended-learning partner with ASU Prep Digital, which a month after rolling out has 1,500 students in its digital high school, mostly from Arizona but also in 11 other states and China. ASU Prep Digital joins the network of ASU Preparatory Academies, which include campuses in Casa Grande, Mesa, downtown Phoenix and — also new this year — ASU Prep Tempe, on the campus of Compadre High School.

The online classes use the Cambridge International Curriculum as an add-on feature, and students can opt out of the Cambridge components, according to Julie Young, deputy vice president and CEO of ASU Prep Digital. Students can potentially earn college credit by scoring proficiently on the Cambridge end-of-course exams.

ASU Prep Digital offers the core high school classes, as well as Latin, Arabic, entrepreneurship and leadership. Students also can take college courses such as sustainability, criminal justice and modern social problems at a reduced tuition rate.

“I like that the courses are online and I can work on them at other places rather than just at school, anytime I want,” said Riley Guthrey, a sophomore at Miami.

When Young first became involved with digital education in 1996, access to the internet was via dial-up. Now it’s a critical component to lifelong learning.

“We believe that for students to be career, college, and life-ready, they need to know how to learn in this environment,” she said. “When they graduate from high school, whether they decide to become a mechanic, a chef, a real estate agent or a Wall Street banker, they will be continuing their education online. It's a life skill."

Miami Junior Senior High School is holding a kickoff celebration of its new partnerships and academic initiative at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11, in the school gym, 4739 Ragus Road. For more information on ASU Prep Digital, click here.

 

Top photo: Janaya Sullivan (left) looks at the large monitor at the front of the class as students log into the ASU Prep Digital lesson in biology class at Miami Junior-Senior High School. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

reporter , ASU Now

480-727-4503